Is there a specific term for words that can be used in the form of a verb and also a noun but pronounced differently? Example: Content, Record..

  • "Content" can sound the same either way, depending on the usage. – Ignacio Vazquez-Abrams Sep 14 '15 at 5:34
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    That would be a "word"! Because almost all words can be multiple parts of speech. – curiousdannii Sep 14 '15 at 5:37
  • As an object-oriented programmer, I would not mind calling such words polymorphic, however it is probably not the official linguistic term for the phenomenon :) – Honza Zidek Sep 14 '15 at 6:20
  • A hypernym, perhaps the closest there is ('word' being many generations / orders above) is 'intercategorial polyseme', but this refers to any two words that are identical in spelling, etymologically related, but different parts of speech (eg 'round' [V], 'round' [Adj], 'round' [Prep]; ...). – Edwin Ashworth Sep 13 '19 at 9:42

Such words as you describe are known variously as 'heteronyms' and 'heterophones'.


In linguistics, 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.

(From Wikipedia. Retrieved from The Free Dictionary, 13 September 2015.)

This assumes, of course, that you accept that verbs and nouns with the same general sense have different meanings. If you do not accept that, the term I found in use was 'pseudo-heteronyms':

Membership in the exclusive club of heteronyms is strict, and tandems such as resume and résumé and pate and pâté are not admitted because the accent constitutes a change in spelling. Pseudo-heteronymic pairs like insult (noun) and insult (verb), ... are not true heteronyms because their etymologies are so closely related. True heteronymic pairs that are not closely related in word formation are among the rarest occurrences.

(From Crazy English, by Richard Lederer.)

There are additional vagaries and stipulations surrounding the given terms: heterophonic heteronyms and heteronymic heterophones each assume their own, differing domains; many word-pairs could, strictly speaking, be called heteronyms and heterophones, because the names denote 'different names' and 'different sounds' respectively. Sorting out the tangle, and defining the conditions of heteronymicity et al. is, I assume, beyond your brief, so I'll leave that delight to others.

However, in the spirit of the topic, I'll refer you to a paper titled "Homographs and Pseudo-Homographs", by Donald A. Drury, published in Word Ways: The Journal of Recreational Linguistics...because heteronyms are also, as Drury explains in part, "non-homophonic homographs".

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