I've been searching on Google for a while now regarding homophones, homonyms and homographs, and I constructed a table to easily categorise words.

Homophone Homonym Homograph Heteronym
Pronunciation Same
Spelling Different Same
Meaning Different Different

The problem is, I'm still confused as to their meanings. I'm interested in some professional definitions of the three word types (and if possible, of a heteronym) and also some help with completing my table.

Here's a diagram I found, but I found it a bit too messy to be able to be read:

Homophone: same pronunciation, different meaning; Homograph: same spelling, different meaning; Heterograph: different meaning and spelling, e.g. too/two; Homonym: Different meaning, e.g. tire (car wheel)/tire (fatigue); Synonym: different spelling and pronunciation

  • 2
    "homonym" can mean either "homophone" or "homophone and homograph".
    – herisson
    Commented Apr 30, 2015 at 3:27

2 Answers 2


The Wikipedia entry for homonym has a table like yours:

Term Meaning Spelling Pronunciation
Homonym Different Same Same
Homograph Different Same (No requirement)
Homophone word Different (No requirement) Same
Homophone phrase Different Different Same to varying degree
Heteronym Different Same Different
Heterograph Different Different Same
Polyseme Different but related Same (No requirement)
Capitonym Different when capitalized Same except for capitalization (No requirement)
Synonym Same Different Different
Antonym Opposite Different Different
Auto-antonym Opposite Same (No requirement)
Synophone Different Different Similar

Homophones are words which are pronounced in same way but may be spelt in different ways. For example:

cite, site, and sight

Homonyms are words which are spelt in the same way but pronounced and meant in different ways. For example,

minute [noun] and minute [adjective]

These words are pronounced in different ways when used to mean 'a unit of time' and 'tiny'.

  • 1
    This is a good start on an answer to the poster's question. To make it even more useful, consider adding explanations of the terms homonym and heteronym. If you have access to "professional definitions" of the terms (which the poster asks for), consider citing them, too.
    – Sven Yargs
    Commented Apr 30, 2015 at 9:53

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