A homophone () is a word that is pronounced the same (to varying extent) as another word but differs in meaning. A ''homophone'' may also differ in spelling. The two words may be
the same, for example ''rose'' (flower) and ''rose'' (past tense of "rise"), or spelled differently, as in ''rain'', ''reign'', and ''rein''. The term ''homophone'' may also apply to units longer or shorter than words, for example a phrase, letter, or groups of letters which are pronounced the same as another phrase, letter, or group of letters. Any unit with this property is said to be ''homophonous'' (). Homophones that are spelled the same are also both
homograph A homograph (from the el, ὁμός, ''homós'', "same" and γράφω, ''gráphō'', "write") is a word that shares the same written form as another word but has a different meaning. However, some dictionaries insist that the words must also ...
s and
homonym In linguistics, homonyms are words which are homographs (words that share the same spelling, regardless of pronunciation), or homophones (equivocal words, that share the same pronunciation, regardless of spelling), or both. Using this definition, ...
s, e.g. the word ''read'', as in "He is well ''read''" (he is very learned) vs. the sentence "I ''read'' that book" (I have finished reading that book). Homophones that are spelled differently are also called heterographs, e.g. ''to'', ''too'', and ''two''.


"Homophone" derives from
Greek Greek may refer to: Greece Anything of, from, or related to Greece, a country in Southern Europe: *Greeks, an ethnic group. *Greek language, a branch of the Indo-European language family. **Proto-Greek language, the assumed last common ancestor ...
''homo-'' (ὁμο‑), "same", and ''phōnḗ'' (φωνή), "voice, utterance".

Wordplay and games

Homophones are often used to create puns and to deceive the reader (as in
crossword puzzles A crossword is a Word game, word puzzle that usually takes the form of a Square (geometry), square or a rectangular Grid graph, grid of white- and black-shaded squares. The goal is to fill the white squares with letter (alphabet), letters, form ...

crossword puzzles
) or to suggest multiple meanings. The last usage is common in
poetry Poetry (derived from the Greek '' poiesis'', "making"), also called verse, is a form of literature that uses aesthetic and often rhythmic qualities of language − such as phonaesthetics, sound symbolism, and metre The metre (Brit ...

and creative
literature Literature is any collection of Writing, written work, but it is also used more narrowly for writings specifically considered to be an art form, especially prose fiction, drama, and poetry. In recent centuries, the definition has expanded to ...

. An example of this is seen in
Dylan Thomas Dylan Marlais Thomas (27 October 1914 – 9 November 1953) was a Welsh people, Welsh poet and writer whose works include the poems "Do not go gentle into that good night" and "And death shall have no dominion", as well as the "play for vo ...
's radio play ''Under Milk Wood'': "The shops in mourning" where ''mourning'' can be heard as ''mourning'' or ''morning''. Another vivid example is
Thomas Hood Thomas Hood (23 May 1799 – 3 May 1845) was an English poet, author and humorist, best known for poems such as "The Bridge of Sighs (poem), The Bridge of Sighs" and "The Song of the Shirt". Hood wrote regularly for ''The London Magazine'', '' ...
's use of ''birth'' and ''berth'' as well as ''told'' and ''toll'd'' (tolled) in his poem "Faithless Sally Brown": : His death, which happen'd in his ''berth'', : At forty-odd befell: : They went and ''told'' the sexton, and : The sexton ''toll'd'' the bell. In some accents, various sounds have
merged Mergers and acquisitions (M&A) are business transactions in which the ownership of Company, companies, other business organizations, or their operating units are transferred to or Consolidation (business), consolidated with another company or b ...
in that they are no longer distinctive, and thus words that differ only by those sounds in an accent that maintains the distinction (a
minimal pair In phonology, minimal pairs are pairs of words or phrases in a particular language, spoken or Sign language, signed, that differ in only one phonological element, such as a phoneme, toneme or chroneme, and have distinct meanings. They are used to ...
) are homophonous in the accent with the merger. Some examples from
are: * ''pin'' and ''pen'' in many
southern American accents
southern American accents
* ''by'' and ''buy'' * ''merry'', ''marry'', and ''Mary'' in most American accents * The pairs ''do'' and ''due'' as well as ''forward'' and ''foreword'' are homophonous in most American accents but not in most English accents * The pairs ''talk'' and ''torque'' as well as ''court'' and ''caught'' are distinguished in rhotic accents, such as
Scottish English Scottish English ( gd, Beurla Albannach) is the set of varieties of the English language English is a West Germanic languages, West Germanic language of the Indo-European language family, with its earliest forms spoken by the inh ...
, and most dialects of American English, but are homophones in some
non-rhotic Rhoticity in English is the pronunciation of the historical rhotic consonant In phonetics, rhotic consonants, or "R-like" sounds, are liquid consonants that are traditionally represented orthographically by symbols derived from the Gree ...
accents, such as British
Received Pronunciation Received Pronunciation (RP) is the accent traditionally regarded as the standard and most prestigious form of spoken British English British English (BrE, en-GB, or BE) is, according to Oxford Dictionaries, " English as used in Gre ...
Wordplay is particularly common in English because the multiplicity of linguistic influences offers considerable complication in spelling and meaning and pronunciation compared with other languages.
Malapropism A malapropism (also called a malaprop, acyrologia, or Dogberryism) is the mistaken use of an incorrect word in place of a word with a similar sound, resulting in a nonsensical, sometimes humorous utterance. An example is the statement attributed to ...
s, which often create a similar comic effect, are usually near-homophones. See also
Eggcorn An eggcorn is the alteration of a phrase through the mishearing or reinterpretation of one or more of its elements,, sense 2 creating a new phrase having a different meaning from the original but which still makes sense and is plausible when used ...

Same-sounding phrases

Same-sounding (homophonous, or homophonic)
phrases In syntax and grammar, a phrase is a group of words or singular word acting as a grammatical unit. For instance, the English language, English expression "the very happy squirrel" is a noun phrase which contains the adjective phrase "very happy". ...
are often used in various
word game Word games (also called word game puzzles or word search games) are spoken, board, or video games often designed to test ability with language or to explore its properties. Word games are generally used as a source of entertainment, but can add ...
s. Examples of same-sounding phrases (which may only be true homophones in certain dialects of English) include: * ''ice cream'' vs. ''I scream'' (as in the meme ''I scream. You scream. We all scream for ice cream.'') * ''euthanasia'' vs. ''
Youth in Asia The youth in Asia constituted the largest youth population by region in 2015, numbering 718 million. The United Nations defines ''youth'' as persons aged 15 to 24 years. The number of youth in Asia is projected to decline to 619 million by 2060. ...
'' * ''depend'' vs. ''deep end'' * ''Gemini'' vs. ''gem in eye'' vs. ''Jim and I'' (vs. ''Jem in eye'') * ''the sky'' vs. ''this guy'' (most notably as a
mondegreen A mondegreen () is a mishearing or misinterpretation of a phrase in a way that gives it a new meaning. Mondegreens are most often created by a person listening to a poem or a song; the listener, being unable to hear a lyric clearly, substitutes w ...
in "
Purple Haze "Purple Haze" is a song written by Jimi Hendrix and released as the second single by the Jimi Hendrix Experience on March 17, 1967. The song features his inventive guitar playing, which uses the signature Hendrix chord and a mix of blues and Ea ...

Purple Haze
" by
Jimi Hendrix James Marshall "Jimi" Hendrix (born Johnny Allen Hendrix; November 27, 1942September 18, 1970) was an American guitarist, singer and songwriter. Although his mainstream career spanned only four years, he is widely regarded as one of the most ...

Jimi Hendrix
) * '' four candles'' vs. ''fork handles'' * ''sand which is there'' vs. ''sandwiches there'' * '' philanderers'' vs. ''
Flanders Flanders (, ; Dutch language, Dutch: ''Vlaanderen'' ) is the Dutch language, Flemish-speaking northern portion of Belgium and one of the communities, regions and language areas of Belgium. However, there are several overlapping definitions, in ...

'' * ''example'' vs. ''egg sample'' * ''some others'' vs. ''some mothers'' vs. ''smothers'' American comedian
Jeff Foxworthy Jeffrey Marshall Foxworthy (born September 6, 1958) is an American actor, author, comedian, producer and writer. He is a member of the Blue Collar Comedy Tour, with Larry the Cable Guy, Bill Engvall, and Ron White. Known for his "You might be a r ...

Jeff Foxworthy
frequently uses same-sounding phrases in his
Appalachia Appalachia () is a cultural region in the Eastern United States that stretches from the Southern Tier of New York State to northern Alabama (We dare defend our rights) , anthem = " Alabama" , image_map = Alabama in United States.svg ...
n comedy routine, which play on exaggerated "country" accents. Notable examples include: * ''Initiate'' vs. ''and then she ate'': "My wife ate two sandwiches, ''initiate'' a bag o' tater chips." * ''Mayonnaise'' vs. ''Man, there is'': "''Mayonnaise'' a lot of people here tonight." * ''Innuendo'' vs. ''in your window'': "Hey dude I saw a bird fly ''innuendo''." * ''Moustache'' vs. ''must ask'': "I ''Moustache'' you a question." During the 1980s, an attempt was made to promote a distinctive term for same-sounding multiple words or phrases, by referring to them as "oronyms", but the term oronym was already well established in
linguistics Linguistics is the scientific study of human language. It is called a scientific study because it entails a comprehensive, systematic, objective, and precise analysis of all aspects of language, particularly its nature and structure. Linguis ...

as an onomastic designation for a class of
toponymic Toponymy, toponymics, or toponomastics is the study of ''wikt:toponym, toponyms'' (proper names of places, also known as place names and geographic names), including their origins, meanings, usage and types. Toponym is the general term for a p ...
features (names of mountains, hills, etc.), the alternative use of the same term was not well accepted in scholarly literature.



There are sources which maintain lists of homophones (words with identical pronunciations but different spellings) and even 'multinyms.' There is disagreement among such lists due to dialectical variations in pronunciation and archaic uses. In English, concerning groups of homophones (excluding proper nouns), there are approximately 88 triplets, 24 quadruplets, 2 quintuplets, 1 sextet, 1 septet, and 1 questionable octet (possibly a second septet). The questionable octet is: : ''raise'', ''rays'', ''rase'', ''raze'', ''rehs'', ''res'', ''reais'', 'race'' Other than the common words ''raise'', ''rays'', and ''race'' this octet includes * ''raze'' – a verb meaning "to demolish, level to the ground" or "to scrape as if with a razor" * ''rase'' – an archaic verb meaning "to erase" * ''rehs'' – the plural of ''reh'', a mixture of sodium salts found as an efflorescence in India * ''res'' – the plural of ''re'', a name for one step of the musical scale; obsolete legal term for "the matter" or "incident" * ''reais'' – the plural of real, the currency unit of Brazil The inclusion of "race" in the octet above is questionable, since its pronunciation differs from the other words on the list (ending with /s/ instead of /z/). If proper names are included, then a possible nonet would be: * ''
Ayr Ayr (; sco, Ayr; gd, Inbhir Àir, "Mouth of the River Ayr The River Ayr (pronounced like ''air'', ''Uisge Àir'' in Gaelic) is a river in Ayrshire Ayrshire ( gd, Siorrachd Inbhir Àir, ) is a historic county and registration county ...
'' – a town in
Scotland Scotland (, ) is a Countries of the United Kingdom, country that is part of the United Kingdom. Covering the northern third of the island of Great Britain, mainland Scotland has a Anglo-Scottish border, border with England to the southeast ...

* ''
Aire Aire may refer to: Music * ''Aire'' (Yuri album), 1987 * ''Aire'' (Pablo Ruiz album), 1997 *''Aire (Versión Día)'', an album by Jesse & Joy Places * Aire-sur-la-Lys, a town in the Pas-de-Calais département in France * Aire-la-Ville, a muni ...

'' – a river in
Yorkshire Yorkshire ( ; abbreviated Yorks), formally known as the County of York, is a Historic counties of England, historic county in northern England and by far the largest in the United Kingdom. Because of its large area in comparison with other Eng ...

* ''Eyre'' – legal term and various geographic locations * ''heir'' – one who inherits * ''air'' – the ubiquitous atmospheric gas that people breathe; a type of musical tune * ''err'' – to make an error * ''ere'' – poetic / archaic "before" * ''e'er'' – poetic "ever" (some speakers) * ''
'' – a defunct, small,
metric unit
metric unit
of area


There are many homophones in present-day standard German. As in other languages, however, there exists regional and/or individual variation in certain groups of words or in single words, so that the number of homophones varies accordingly. Regional variation is especially common in words that exhibit the long vowels ''ä'' and ''e''. According to the well-known dictionary
Duden The Duden () is a dictionary A dictionary is a listing of lexemes from the lexicon of one or more specific languages, often arranged Alphabetical order, alphabetically (or by radical-and-stroke sorting, radical and stroke for ideographi ...

, these vowels should be distinguished as /ɛ:/ and /e:/, but this is not always the case, so that words like ''Ähre'' (ear of corn) and ''Ehre'' (honor) may or may not be homophones. Individual variation is shown by a pair like ''Gäste'' (guests) – ''Geste'' (gesture), the latter of which varies between /ˈɡe:stə/ and /ˈɡɛstə/ and by a pair like ''Stiel'' (handle, stalk) – ''Stil'' (style), the latter of which varies between /ʃtiːl/ and /stiːl/. Besides websites that offer extensive lists of German homophones, there are others which provide numerous sentences with various types of homophones. In the German language homophones occur in more than 200 instances. Of these, a few are triples like * ''Waagen'' (weighing scales) – ''Wagen'' (cart) – ''wagen'' (to dare) * ''Waise'' (orphan) – ''Weise'' (way, manner) – ''weise'' (wise) Most are couples like ''lehren'' (to teach) – ''leeren'' (to empty).


Although Spanish has far fewer homophones than in English, they are far from being non-existent. Some are homonyms, such as ''basta'', which can either mean 'enough' or 'coarse', but most exist because of homophonous letters. For example, the letters ''b'' and ''v'' are pronounced exactly alike, so the words ''basta'' (coarse) and ''vasta'' (vast) are pronounced identically. Other homonyms are etymologically related, but have different genders, and in some cases the different genders producing different lexical items. In the case of ''persona'', ''el persona'' (the male or ungendered/unidentified person) and ''la persona'' (the female person) are the masculine and feminine forms of the noun ''persona'' (person) respectively. However, ''el capital'' and ''la capital'' have drastically different meanings, in which the masculine noun means 'money' and the feminine noun means 'capital city' or 'capital letter'.


There are many homophones in Japanese, due to the use of
Sino-Japanese vocabulary Sino-Japanese vocabulary, also known as refers to Japanese vocabulary that had originated in Chinese language, Chinese or were created from elements borrowed from Chinese. Some grammatical structures and sentence patterns can also be identified as ...
, where borrowed words and morphemes from Chinese are widely used in Japanese, but many sound differences, such as the original words' tones, are lost. These are to some extent disambiguated via Japanese pitch accent (i.e. 日本 vs. 二本, both pronounced ''nihon'', but with different pitches), or from context, but many of these words are primarily or almost exclusively used in writing, where they are easily distinguished as they are written with different
kanji are the logographic Chinese characters taken from the Chinese family of scripts, Chinese script and used in the writing of Japanese language, Japanese. They were made a major part of the Japanese writing system during the time of Old Japanese ...

; others are used for puns, which are frequent in Japanese. An extreme example is ''kikō'' (
hiragana is a Japanese language, Japanese syllabary, part of the Japanese writing system, along with ''katakana'' as well as ''kanji''. It is a phonetic lettering system. The word ''hiragana'' literally means "flowing" or "simple" kana ("simple" ori ...

: きこう), which is the pronunciation of at least 22 words (some quite rare or specialized, others common; all these examples are two-character compounds), including: * 機構 (organization / mechanism) * 紀行 (travelogue) * 稀覯 (rare) * 騎行 (horseback riding) * 貴校 (school (respectful)) * 奇功 (outstanding achievement) * 貴公 (word for "you" used by men addressing male equals or inferiors) * 起稿 (draft) * 奇行 (eccentricity) * 機巧 (contrivance) * 寄港 (stopping at port) * 帰校 (returning to school) * 気功 (breathing exercise, qigong) * 寄稿 (contribute an article / a written piece) * 機甲 (armor, e.g. of a tank) * 帰航 (homeward voyage) * 奇効 (remarkable effect) * 季候 (season / climate) * 気孔 (stoma) * 起工 (setting to work) * 気候 (climate) * 帰港 (returning to port) Even some native Japanese words are homophones. For example, ''kami'' (かみ) is the pronunciation of the words * 紙 (paper) * 髪 (hair) * 神 (god/spirit) * 上 (up) The former two words are disambiguated from the latter two by pitch accent.


The Korean language contains a combination of words that strictly belong to Korean and words that are
loanwords A loanword (also loan word or loan-word) is a word at least partly assimilated from one language (the donor language) into another language. This is in contrast to cognates, which are words in two or more languages that are similar because the ...
from Chinese. Due to Chinese being pronounced with varying tones and Korean's removal of those tones, and because the modern Korean writing system, Hangeul, has a more finite number of phonemes than, for example, Latin-derived alphabets such as that of English, there are many homonyms with both the same spelling and pronunciation. For example * '': 'to put on makeup' vs. '': 'to cremate' * '': 'inheritance' vs. '': 'miscarriage' * '': 'fart' vs. '': 'guard' * '밤 ː: 'chestnut' vs. '밤': 'night' There are heterographs, but far fewer, contrary to the tendency in English. For example, * '학문(學問)': 'learning' vs. '항문(肛門)': 'anus'. Using
hanja Hanja (Hangul: ; Hanja: , ), alternatively known as Hancha, are Chinese characters Chinese characters () are logograms developed for the writing of Chinese. In addition, they have been adapted to write other East Asian languages ...

(), which are
Chinese characters Chinese characters () are logograms developed for the writing of Chinese. In addition, they have been adapted to write other East Asian languages, and remain a key component of the Japanese writing system where they are known as ''kanji ...
, such words are written differently. As in other languages, Korean homonyms can be used to make puns. The context in which the word is used indicates which meaning is intended by the speaker or writer.

Mandarin Chinese

Due to phonological constraints in Mandarin syllables (as Mandarin only allows for an initial consonant, a vowel, and a nasal or retroflex consonant in respective order), there are only a little over 400 possible unique syllables that can be produced, compared to over 15,831 in the English language. Chinese has an entire genre of poems taking advantage of the large amount of homophones called one-syllable articles, or poems where every single word in the poem is pronounced as the same syllable if tones are disregarded. An example is the '' Lion-Eating Poet in the Stone Den.'' Like all Chinese languages, Mandarin uses phonemic tones to distinguish homophonic syllables; Mandarin has five tones. A famous example, * ''mā'' (妈) means "mother" * ''má'' (麻) means "hemp" * ''mă'' (马) means "horse" * ''mà'' (骂) means "scold" * ''ma'' (吗) is a yes / no question particle Although all these words consist of the same string of consonants and vowels, the only way to distinguish each of these words audibly is by listening to which tone the word has, and as shown above, saying a consonant-vowel string using a different tone can produce an entirely different word altogether. If tones are included, the number of unique syllables in Mandarin increases to at least 1,522. However, even with tones, Mandarin retains a very large amount of homophones. ''Yì'', for example, has at least 125 homophones, and it is the pronunciation used for
Chinese characters Chinese characters () are logograms developed for the writing of Chinese. In addition, they have been adapted to write other East Asian languages, and remain a key component of the Japanese writing system where they are known as ''kanji ...
such as 义, 意, 易, 亿, 议, 一, and 已. There are even place names in China that have identical pronunciations, aside for the difference in tone. For example, there are two neighboring provinces with nearly identical names,
Shanxi Shanxi (; ; formerly romanised as Shansi) is a landlocked province A province is almost always an administrative division within a country or sovereign state, state. The term derives from the ancient Roman ''Roman province, provincia'', wh ...

(山西) and
Shaanxi Shaanxi (alternatively Shensi, see #Name, § Name) is a landlocked Provinces of China, province of China. Officially part of Northwest China, it borders the province-level divisions of Shanxi (NE, E), Henan (E), Hubei (SE), Chongqing (S), Sichu ...

(陕西) Province. The only difference in pronunciation between the two names are the tone in the first syllable (Shanxi is pronounced ''Shānxī'' whereas Shaanxi is pronounced ''Shǎnxī'')''.'' As most languages exclude the tone
diacritics A diacritic (also diacritical mark, diacritical point, diacritical sign, or accent) is a glyph added to a letter (alphabet), letter or to a basic glyph. The term derives from the Ancient Greek (, "distinguishing"), from (, "to distinguish"). T ...
when transcribing Chinese place names into their own languages, the only way to visually distinguish the two names is to write Shaanxi in
Gwoyeu Romatzyh Gwoyeu Romatzyh (), abbreviated GR, is a system for writing Mandarin Chinese in the Latin alphabet The Latin alphabet or Roman alphabet is the collection of letters originally used by the Ancient Rome, ancient Romans to write the Latin ...
romanization Romanization or romanisation, in linguistics Linguistics is the scientific study of human language. It is called a scientific study because it entails a comprehensive, systematic, objective, and precise analysis of all aspects of langu ...
. Otherwise, nearly all other spellings of placenames in mainland China are spelled using
Hanyu Pinyin Hanyu Pinyin (), often shortened to just pinyin, is the official romanization system for Standard Chinese, Standard Mandarin Chinese in China, and to some extent, in Singapore and Malaysia. It is often used to teach Mandarin, normally writte ...

Hanyu Pinyin
romanization. Many scholars believe that the Chinese language did not always have such a large number of homophones and that the phonological structure of Chinese syllables was once more complex, which allowed for a larger amount of possible syllables so that words sounded more distinct from each other. Scholars also believe that Old Chinese had no phonemic tones, but tones emerged in
Middle Chinese Middle Chinese (formerly known as Ancient Chinese) or the Qieyun system (QYS) is the historical variety of Chinese recorded in the '' Qieyun'', a rime dictionary first published in 601 and followed by several revised and expanded editions. The ...
to replace sounds that were lost from Old Chinese. Since words in Old Chinese sounded more distinct from each other at this time, it explains why many words in
Classical Chinese Classical Chinese, also known as Literary Chinese (古文 ''gǔwén'' "ancient text", or 文言 ''wényán'' "text speak", meaning "literary language/speech"; modern vernacular: 文言文 ''wényánwén'' "text speak text", meaning "literar ...
consisted of only one syllable. For example, the
Standard Mandarin Standard Chinese ()—in linguistics Standard Northern Mandarin or Standard Beijing Mandarin, in common speech simply Mandarin, better qualified as Standard Mandarin, Modern Standard Mandarin or Standard Mandarin Chinese—is a modern Standar ...
word 狮子(''shīzi'', meaning "lion") was simply 狮 (''shī'') in Classical Chinese, and the Standard Mandarin word 教育 (''jiàoyù,'' "education") was simply 教 (''jiào'') in Classical Chinese. Since many Chinese words became homophonic over the centuries, it became difficult to distinguish words when listening to documents written in Classical Chinese being read aloud. One-syllable articles like those mentioned above are evidence for this. For this reason, many one-syllable words from Classical Chinese became two-syllable words, like the words mentioned in the previous paragraph. Even with the existence of two- or two-syllable words, however, there are even multisyllabic homophones. Such homophones even play a major role in daily life throughout China, including Spring Festival traditions, which gifts to give (and not give), political criticism, texting, and many other aspects of people's lives. Another complication that arises within the Chinese language is that in non-rap songs, tones are disregarded in favor of maintaining
melody A melody (from Greek language, Greek μελῳδία, ''melōidía'', "singing, chanting"), also tune, voice or line, is a Linearity#Music, linear succession of musical tones that the listener perceives as a single entity. In its most liter ...

in the song. While in most cases, the lack of phonemic tones in music does not cause confusion among native speakers, there are instances where puns may arise. For example, in the song ''Duìbùqǐ wǒ de zhōngwén bù hǎo (对不起我的中文不好)'' by Transition, the singer sings about his difficulty communicating with Chinese speakers as a native English speaker learning Chinese. In one line of the song, the singer says, ''wo yao shuijiao'' (我要水饺), which means "I want dumplings", but the native Chinese speaker misunderstands the English speaker and thought he wanted to sleep, because if tones are disregarded ''shuijiao'' (睡觉) means "to sleep". Although the song lacks Mandarin tones – like ''most'' songs in Mandarin – the lyrics imply that the English speaker probably used the wrong tones when saying the word. Subtitles in Chinese characters are usually displayed on music videos and in songs sung on movies and TV shows to disambiguate the song's lyrics.


It is estimated that there are approximately 4,500 to 4,800 possible syllables in Vietnamese, depending on the dialect. The exact number is difficult to calculate because there are significant differences in pronunciation among the dialects. For example, the graphemes and digraphs "d", "gi", and "r" are all pronounced /z/ in the Hanoi dialect, so the words ''dao'' (knife), ''giao'' (delivery), and ''rao'' (advertise) are all pronounced /zaw˧/. In Saigon dialect, however, the graphemes and digraphs "d", "gi", and "v" are all pronounced /j/, so the words ''dao'' (knife), ''giao'' (delivery), and ''vao'' (enter) are all pronounced /jaw˧/. Pairs of words that are homophones in one dialect may not be homophones in the other. For example, the words ''sắc'' (sharp) and ''xắc'' (dice) are both pronounced /săk˧˥/ in Hanoi dialect, but pronounced /ʂăk˧˥/ and /săk˧˥/ in Saigon dialect respectively.

Psychological research


Pseudo-homophones are
pseudoword A pseudoword is a unit of speech or text that appears to be an actual word in a certain language Language is a structured system of communication. The structure of a language is its grammar and the free components are its vocabulary. Languag ...
s that are
phonetic Phonetics is a branch of linguistics that studies how humans produce and perceive sounds, or in the case of sign languages, the equivalent aspects of sign. Linguists who specialize in studying the physical properties of speech are phoneticians. ...
ally identical to a word. For example, groan/grone and crane/crain are pseudo-homophone pairs, whereas plane/plain is a homophone pair since both letter strings are recognised words. Both types of pairs are used in
lexical decision task The lexical decision task (LDT) is a procedure used in many psychology Psychology is the science, scientific study of mind and behavior. Psychology includes the study of consciousness, conscious and Unconscious mind, unconscious phenomena, ...
s to investigate word recognition.

Use as ambiguous information

Homophones, specifically heterographs, where one spelling is of a threatening nature and one is not (''e.g.'' slay/sleigh, war/wore) have been used in studies of
anxiety Anxiety is an emotion which is characterized by an unpleasant state of inner wikt:turmoil, turmoil and includes feelings of dread over Anticipation, anticipated events. Anxiety is different than fear in that the former is defined as the anticipa ...

as a test of cognitive models that those with high anxiety tend to interpret ambiguous information in a threatening manner.

See also

Homograph A homograph (from the el, ὁμός, ''homós'', "same" and γράφω, ''gráphō'', "write") is a word that shares the same written form as another word but has a different meaning. However, some dictionaries insist that the words must also ...
Homonym In linguistics, homonyms are words which are homographs (words that share the same spelling, regardless of pronunciation), or homophones (equivocal words, that share the same pronunciation, regardless of spelling), or both. Using this definition, ...
Synonym A synonym is a word, morpheme, or phrase In syntax and grammar, a phrase is a group of words or singular word acting as a grammatical unit. For instance, the English language, English expression "the very happy squirrel" is a noun phrase whi ...
* Dajare, a type of wordplay involving similar-sounding phrases * Perfect rhyme ;Wiktionary * List of dialect-independent homophones * List of dialect-dependent homophones




* * *

External links

– a list of American homophones with a searchable database.
Reed's homophones
– a book of sound-alike words published in 2012
– a collection of homophones and their definitions
Homophone Machine
– swaps homophones in any sentence
Useful tips ... English homophones
– homophones list, activities and worksheets {{Authority control Ambiguity Narrative techniques Semantic relations Types of words