I know there exists a term for the to–too–two situation where the words are pronounced the same but spelled differently.

Is there a term for the situation of unionized /ˈjuːnɪənɑɪzd/ and un-ionized (sometimes spelled unionized) /ʌnˈaɪənaɪzd/ where the words are pronounced differently but spelled the same?

Also, since I can't find it, what is the term for the to–too–two dilemma as well?


1 Answer 1


This type of word is a heteronym, which per Wikipedia is:

A heteronym (also known as a heterophone) is a word that is written identically but has a different pronunciation and meaning. In other words, they are homographs that are not homophones. Thus, row (propel with oars) and row (argument) are heteronyms, but mean (intend) and mean (average) are not (since they are pronounced the same). Heteronym pronunciation may vary in vowel realisation, in stress pattern (see also Initial-stress-derived noun), or in other ways e.g.

  • A bass was painted on the head of the bass drum.

  • Do you know what a buck does to does?

  • They were too close to the door to close it.

  • Don't desert me here in the desert!

  • 1
    Silly American here, I pronounce row and row the same way.
    – Patrick M
    Commented Aug 1, 2014 at 17:38
  • 1
    In that case, you and your boat really must not get on.
    – Ronan
    Commented Aug 2, 2014 at 8:31

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