Is there a general term for a word that has different pronunciations depending on which part of speech it is taking on in a sentence?

For example, "attribute" here is used as a noun

She has many good attributes; I think I will ask her out.

.. and here as a verb

I attribute her good looks to the expensive face lotion she uses.

However, the typical pronunciation is different in either case (the stress is on a different syllable).

  • 6
    In this particular case, the term is initial-stress-derived noun.
    – RegDwigнt
    Feb 12, 2014 at 19:42
  • 1
    Related: suprafix (Wikipedia) Feb 12, 2014 at 19:43
  • @RegDwigнt Hmm, I guess I made my question too general then.
    – Chris
    Feb 13, 2014 at 0:18
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    @RegDwigнt can you please make your comment into an answer so this question no longer shows up as unanswered. It's annoying to click on apparent zero-answer questions, looking to provide an answer, and then discover it's already been answered in a comment. Feb 13, 2014 at 5:40

1 Answer 1


According to FSU, these words are referred to as "Equivocal."

An equivocal word can be pronounced in two different ways, meaning two different things. This is a concept that is the opposite of a homonym, or perhaps an opposite.

Source: Equivocal Words

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