Re: Homophone vs Homonym
Lynne Hand said:
I always thought that homophones are words with different meanings that sound the same, but are spelt differently and homonyms are words with different meanings that sound different, but are spelt the same.
So a homophone would be - There was a mail from a male.
And a homonym would be - The bandage was wound around the wound.
PS You can practice your homophones here.
Yes, but homonym
is also the name for the larger category. Thus, all homophones are homonyms, but not all homonyms are homophones. If you use homonym
to talk about a subcategory of homonyms you create unnecessary confusion. After all, both homophones and homonyms are homonyms. That confusion is unnecessary because you can call that subcategory heteronyms
, and that word is already in use.
I agree with you that this area of English is confusing. When one looks up "homonym" in the dictionary, one gets several definitions, all of which conflict with the others.
I favor your method. Make "homonym" the main category and have it mean words that sound alike, are spelled alike, or both. Under that, let's have:
1) homophone: words that sound alike, but are spelled differently.
2) homograph (also called heteronym): words that are spelled the same, but are pronounced differently
3) homomorph: words that are spelled the same and pronounced the same, but which have different meanings (and possibly different etymologies)
The word "homomorph" is not in wide usage yet, and some dictionaries use "homonym" for that use, but they also use homonym for homomorphs and homographs/heteronyms.
I prefer "homograph" to "heteronym" because of the name. "Homograph" means same writing, whereas "heteronym" means different name. Were it up to me, I would use "heteronym" for homomorphs that have different etymologies, but that would be far too confusing.
If the civilized world is not open to "homomorph", then an alternative plan would be to not have a main category and reserve "homonym" (same name) for homomorphs (same form), words spelled alike and which sound alike.