Words like "read", "wind", "live" and "lead" are spelt the same, but have different meanings:

Lead1 (leed):
cause (a person or animal) to go with one by holding them by the hand, a halter, a rope, etc. while moving forward.
-- Dictionary.com


Lead2 (led):
A heavy, comparatively soft, malleable, bluish-grey metal.
-- Dictionary.com

So what are these words called? And are there any others, beside the 4 I have mentioned?

  • They are called homographs, and you could add bear (hairy animal; carry) or sow (lady pig; scatter seeds) to the list. Sep 29, 2014 at 15:44
  • 1
    @RoaringFish those are examples of words that are spelt the same but also are pronounced the same... the OP requested words that are spelt the same but pronounced differently Sep 29, 2014 at 15:47
  • No, like bow (curtsey / ribbon) - pronounced differently, or tear (rip / cry).
    – Tim
    Sep 29, 2014 at 15:47
  • 1
    I know but its a different example I guess Sep 29, 2014 at 15:49
  • 1
    But unlike the earlier question, this question also asks for examples of such words (not that such examples are especially difficult to find once you know what they are called).
    – Sven Yargs
    Sep 29, 2014 at 21:02

4 Answers 4


Word that are spelled the same, but which have different meanings and etymologies are normally referred to as:

  • homographs

Words that are spelled the same but pronounced differently are:

  • heteronyms

The word homograph is made from two morphemes. The first is homo- meaning same. The second is graph which means writing or written. -nym as you can probably guess means name.

Other examples of homographs:

  • (river) bank, (high street bank)
  • (transport) plane (woodwork tool)
  • (person) fan (machine)
  • (implement) pen (farm)
  • (punctuation) colon (pooh)

Some heteronyms - which are also homographs:

  • (argue) row (sport)
  • (guitar) bass (fish)
  • (genuflect) bow (ribbon)
  • (wind) buffet (canape)

HOMONYMS are words that sound alike but have different meanings.

Homophones are a type of homonym that also sound alike and have different meanings, but have different spellings.

HOMOGRAPHS are words that are spelled the same but have different meanings.

Heteronyms are a type of homograph that are also spelled the same and have different meanings, but sound different.

For simplification:


Words that are spelled the same but are pronounced differently are call Heteronyms

For an interesting article on word types, see Wikipedia


Here are some additional examples of heteronyms (many of them lifted from this site):

  • (second option) alternate (switch back and forth)

  • (suitable) appropriate (commandeer)

  • (panel) console (comfort)

  • (complete, v) consummate (perfect, adj.)

  • (satisfied) content (thing or things contained)

  • (document, n) contract (shrink)

  • (talk, v) converse (thing reversed in order)

  • (representative) delegate (assign)

  • (intentional) deliberate (consider carefully)

  • (price reduction) discount (minimize or disregard)

  • (way in) entrance (enrapture or enthrall)

  • (very close) intimate (suggest indirectly)

  • (incorrect) invalid (disabled)

  • (frown) lower (relative position)

  • (60 seconds) minute (tiny)

  • (temperate) moderate (preside or oversee)

  • (in attendance) present (give)

  • (undercoat paint) primer (textbook)

  • (fruits and vegetables) produce (generate)

  • (advance, n) progress (advance, v)

  • (tell) recount (add again)

  • (deny) refuse (garbage)

  • (move apart) separate (distinct)

  • (have doubts about) suspect (person under suspicion)

  • (carry as freight) transport (conveyance)

  • (distress or discombobulate) upset (surprise victory)

There are many, many others.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.