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Word pairs like bizarre and bazaar, although spelled differently sound very similar. It also seems like they are more than just a pair of rhyming words.

Is there a classification within rhyming words? Are there other such words? Or are they just a pair of rhyming words and I'm highlighting them because they just sound cool?

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They're called homonyms (also homophones). While the pair you list may in fact be pronounced differently in some dialects, in others there will be no difference. –  Robusto Jan 18 '12 at 16:50
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@Robusto I have never heard these two words pronounced the same. –  Phoenix Jan 18 '12 at 16:56
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Well, I've heard the endings pronounced the same, but never the beginnings. There's usually a differentiation in how each is stressed as well. –  Phoenix Jan 18 '12 at 17:05
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Generally, if two words are actually identical in pronunciation, they aren't felt to rhyme. Rhyming requires some phonetic difference. Also, the pronunciation varies, so for some people they do rhyme, while for others they don't. Sorry. The Academy hasn't gotten around to this one yet. –  John Lawler Jan 18 '12 at 17:06
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Dictionaries show them with the same pronunciation, with a shwa on the first syllable. If the pronunciation is the same, they would be heterographic (spelled differently) homophones (sounded the same). –  Brett Reynolds Jan 18 '12 at 17:28

1 Answer 1

Words that sound the same but have different meanings are called homophones. Homophones can be either

  • homonyms if and only they are spelled the same (e.g. tire - like the thing you put on a car or tire as a verb meaning fatigued)
  • heteronyms if they just sound alike, such as your example.

Etymologically, they are usually unrelated (bazaar is Arabic, for instance, wheras bizaare comes from the Latin). Though they may sound alike, its just an accident.

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protected by tchrist Jun 14 at 18:37

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