List of English homographs

From Academic Kids

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List of homographs (also known as heteronyms) in English.

Note: BrE = British English, AmE = American English. When not given, the pronunciation difference is believed to be the same in both dialects.

  • abstract
    • (a), (n)
    • (v)
  • abuse
    • (n) There is a time, when the hoary head of inveterate abuse will neither draw reverence, nor obtain protection.
    • (v) It is the characteristic of the English drunkard to abuse his wife and family.
  • address
    • AmE and BrE (v)
    • AmE BrE (n)
  • allied
    • (a) The vice is of a great kindred: it is well allied.
    • (a) The Treaty of Vienna..had bound the Allied Powers to make war together upon Napoleon.
  • ally
    • (n) He became the ally of a boy named Aubrey Mills and founded with him a gang of adventurers in the avenue.
    • (v) No foreign power will ally with us.
  • articulate
    • (v) The tourists are the ones who always try to articulate every syllable when they speak the language.
    • (a) In one decade, the image of youth went from radicals uttering rage-filled rhetoric to the much less articulate valley girl or surfer wannabe.
  • axes
    • (v) The lumberjack axes the trees to the ground.
    • (n) The x and y axes inersect at (0,0).
  • ay/aye
    • (adv) He voted aye on the legislation he had sponsored.
    • (adv) They vowed their undying love for aye.
  • bass
    • (n) Joey auditioned for the band while it was seeking someone to play bass.
    • (n) The store was selling an animatronic bigmouth bass that would open its mouth and sing "Take Me to the River" whenever someone passed by.
  • baton
    • Baton Rouge is home to a thriving Kung Fu community.
    • Baton tossing, when done well, provides excellent parade entertainment.
  • bow
    • (v) Satoshi always made sure to bow before the emperor.
    • (n) The hordes of warriors making their way through the forest fought with bow and arrow.
  • buffet
    • AmE BrE (n) Steamed clams, prawns in mustard sauce and barbecued lamb with cilantro sat at the left edge of the buffet table.
    • (v) It takes a catastrophe every now and then to buffet the nation out of its laziness and complacency.
  • celtic
    • (n, atrributive) The bagpipers, three in number, screamed, during the whole time of dinner, a tremendous war-tune; and the echoing of the vaulted roof, and clang of the Celtic tongue, produced such a Babel of noises, that Waverley dreaded his ears would never recover it. (Walter Scott, Waverley)
    • (pn) The Celtics never recovered from a second-quarter slump and never moved the ball well enough to generate consistent offense. (Shira Springer, "Celtics are left in dust", Boston Globe April 18, 2004)
  • close
    • (v) Cliff still has to close his eyes to be able to eat calamari.
    • (a) It seemed that the story in the newspaper had hit a little too close to home.
  • concert
    • AmE BrE (n)
    • AmE BrE (v)
  • confines
    • (n pl)
    • (v)
  • conflict
    • (n)
    • (v)
  • console
    • AmE BrE (n)
    • AmE BrE (v)
  • contract
    • (n) The contract was supposed to expire seven years after it was signed.
    • (v) Derek firmly stated that he would rather contract pneumonia and die than stand outside wearing that ridiculous pink and green poncho.
  • coop
    • (n)
    • AmE BrE (n) also co-op
  • crooked
  • des
  • desert
    • (v) To desert the military is a crime.
    • (n) The Gobi is a large desert in Asia.
  • discard
    • AmE BrE
    • AmE /BrE
  • do
    • , (v) What do you think you are doing?
    • (n) To warm-up, the singer sang the scale from do.
  • dos
  • does
    • (v) When someone does something right it does not make headlines, but when someone does something wrong it does.
    • (n) Even during hunting season, the hunters are required by law only to shoot the bucks and not the does.
  • dogged
    • (v) At night proctors patrolled the street and dogged your steps if you tried to go into any haunt where the presence of vice was suspected. (Samuel Butler, The Way of All Flesh)
    • (a) Still, the dogged obstinacy of his race held him to the pace he had set, and would hold him till he dropped in his tracks. (Jack London, The Son of the Wolf)
  • dove
    • (n) The dove is a kind of bird.
    • (v) He dove into the pool. (BrE uses "dived" instead)
  • en
    • (prep) Steve suffered a massive heart attack en route to the Cypress Hill concert.
    • (attributive) When the editor transferred the article on the Internet from blog to newspaper, he had to change several improperly used en dashes to em dashes and fix up the semicolons here and there.
  • grace
    • (n) Janice new exactly what was coming up when Clay started in on another one of his long expositions on how we had all fallen from grace and needed Jesus' love to save us.
    • or (n) When Sen. Hutton had not only stumped his challenger in the debate but displayed a photograph revealing him as a wife-swapping hypocrite, that was the coup de grace.
  • house
    • (n) "Jane, Jane, the house is on fire!" (Edward P. Roe, He Fell In Love With His Wife)
    • (v) If a slave could escape to the swamps or the forest and elude the bloodhounds on his track, he knew that at certain points he would find those who were prepared to house him, and, passing him on secretly from station to station, ensure his arrival at a terminus where he would be safe for life. (Walter Hawkins, Old John Brown)
  • incense
    • (n)
    • (v)
  • lead
    • (n) Water traveled through ancient Rome through lead pipes.
    • (v) The mother duck can lead her ducklings around.
  • lima
    • (attributive) The kids on You Can't Do That on Television always dreaded being served liver and lima beans for dinner.
    • (pn) Sancho rode his donkey through the mountains of Lima.
  • live
    • (v) I don't need you to determine whether I live or die.
    • (a) I went to see Alanis Morissette live in concert.
  • minute
    • (n) The guests are going to start flooding in any minute now.
    • (a) When I remarked, unable to understand why she was fretting over buying a pair of shoes, that the sandals all looked the same color to me, Tiffany started explaining to me the minute differences between umber, burnt umber and terracotta.
  • mobile
    • AmE BrE (n) The baby sat in awe at the bright colors on the mobile.
    • BrE (a) Although most animals are mobile, the sponge is sessile.
    • (pn) They packed up their trailer and moved from Auburn to Mobile.
  • moped
    • (v) Depressed, he moped around the house for days.
    • (n) She drove her new moped to school.
  • number
    • (n) What is your phone number?
    • (a) My cold toes were number' than hers.
  • oblige
  • overall
  • polish
    • AmE BrE
    • AmE BrE
  • present
    • (a) All need to be present for a unanimous vote.
    • (n)
    • (v) He will present his ideas to the Board of Directors tomorrow.
  • primer
  • produce
    • AmE BrE (n) The Americans only consume a small portion of this produce, and they are willing to sell us the rest. (Alexis de Tocqueville, American Institutions And Their Influence)
    • AmE BrE (v) The judicial power is by its nature devoid of action; it must be put in motion in order to produce a result. (Alexis de Tocqueville, American Institutions And Their Influence)
  • putting
    • (v) The final step in each hole in golf is putting the ball across the green into the cup.
    • (v) She is putting on a show for you.
  • ragged
  • read
  • real
  • record
    • AmE BrE (n) She played a vinyl record on her old turntable.
    • BrE (v) Did he record the concert with his camcorder?
  • refuse
    • (v) If you refuse the background check, we cannot hire you.
    • (n) Please clean up all of your refuse.
  • resume
  • riches
    • (n) The stranger was much pleased with the great number of shops full of merchandize, lighted up to the best advantage. He was astonished at the display of riches in Lombard-Street and Cheapside. (Tobias Smollett, Travels through France and Italy)
    • (n) (part of nouveau riches) Whatever is left of politics in this world of nouveau riches and nouveau Russes, is now spelled with a very small "p." (Gregory Freidin, "Moscow Nouveau: From the Barricades to Business", Los Angeles Times, August 21, 1994)
  • row
    • AmE BrE
  • separate
    • (a) This should be divided into packets of ten cartridges each, which should be rolled up in flannel and hermetically sealed in separate tin canisters. (Samuel W. Baker, The Nile Tributaries of Abyssinia)
    • (v) To stalk these wary antelopes I was obliged to separate from my party, who continued on their direct route. (Samuel W. Baker, The Nile Tributaries of Abyssinia)
  • sewer
    • (n) Broken sewer pipes can be a smelly mess.
    • (n) "We might choose the best sewers and let them put in at least a few stitches, so that they can feel they have a share in it." (Kate Douglas Wiggin, The Flag-Raising)
  • sow
    • (n) The sow suckled her newborn piglets.
    • (v) The farmer will sow oats in the back forty.
  • tear
    • (v) and haven't they been ready to tear the clothes off my back too? (Henrik Ibsen, An Enemy of the People)
    • (n) Second, the greatest and last of the Hohenstaufen, or refrain from dropping a tear over his sad failure. (O. A. Brownson, The American Republic)
  • terrible
  • tier
    • (n) Our seats are in the third tier of the stadium.
    • (n) Will the tier be around to make these knots?
  • use
  • vie
  • voyage
  • whoop
  • wind
    • How did we wind up in Kansas?
    • The wind blew from the northeast.
  • won
  • wound
    • The rope was wound around his wrists.
    • She died from a fatal chest wound.

Some words are nouns or adjectives when the accent is on the first syllable and verbs when it is on the second.

When the prefix "re-" is prepended to a monosyllabic word, and the word gains currency both as a noun and as a verb, it will probably fit into this pattern, although, as the list below makes clear, most words fitting this pattern do not match that description.

Other Homographs

Many of these have first syllables that evolved from Latin prepositions, although again that does not account for all of them. Also, some of these words only exhibit the stress alternation in certain varieties of English.

See also

initial-stress-derived noun list of commonly confused homonyms

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