Most words that have a noun-form and a verb-form (noun/verb pairs) have identical spelling, e.g. a jump (n.), to jump (v.).

However, some words have different spelling:

advice (n.), advise (v.)

licence (n.), license (v.)

effect (n.), affect (v.)

life (n.), live (v.)

safe (adj.), save (v.)

belief (n.), believe (v.)

Is there a general name for these minor spelling differences for related words? It's not conjugation because that only applies to verbs. I'm looking for a word that means conjugation, but between nouns and verbs, adjectives and verbs, etc.


There are a couple of comments saying that effect and affect have different meanings. I included them to show that my question is not just about the difference between the unvoiced (n.) and voiced (v.) spellings of the words. If anyone can think of a better example to include in my question I'd appreciate it.

However, consulting my Macquarie Dictionary, it gives the following definitions:

effect /əˈfɛkt, i-/, n. 1. that which is produced by some agency or cause; a result; a consequence: the effect of heat. 2. power to produce results; efficacy; force; validity; weight: of no effect. 3. the state of being operative; operation or execution; accomplishment or fulfilment: to bring a plan into effect. 4. a mental impression produced, as by a painting, speech, etc. 5. the result intended; purport or intent; tenor or significance: he wrote to that effect. 6. (of stage properties) a sight, sound or, occasionally, smell simulated by artificial means to give a particular impression in a theatre. 7. a scientific phenomenon: the Doppler effect. 8. (pl.) goods; movables; personal property. 9. for effect, for the sake of a desired impression; with histrionic intent. 10. in effect, a. in fact or reality. b. in operation, as a law. 11. take effect, to operate or begin to operate. -v.t. 12. to produce as an effect; bring about; accomplish; make happen. 13. to produce or make. [ME, from L effectus from efficere bring about] -effecter, n. -effectible, adj.

affect¹ /əˈfɛkt/, v.t. 1. to act on; produce an effect or a change in: cold affects the body. 2. to impress; move (in mind or feelings): the poetry affected me deeply. 3. (of pain, disease, etc.) to attack or lay hold of. -n. 4. Psychol. feeling or emotion. 5. Obs. affection; passion; sensation; inclination; inward disposition or feeling. [L affectus, pp., influenced, attacked]

affect² /əˈfɛkt/, v.t. 1. to make a show of; put on a pretence of; pretend; feign: to affect ignorance. 2. [...]

To me, definitions 1. and 5. of effect look like the same meaning as definitions 1. and 2. of affect¹.

The effect of heat is different for everyone. (effect, def. 1.)

Heat affects everyone differently. (affect¹, def. 1.)

*Heat effects everyone differently. (effect, def. 12. or 13.)

affect² is a completely different meaning about pretending and other meanings, which is why I haven't included the full text.

I am aware that the etymology shows different meanings, but the modern English meanings don't match the Latin meanings anyway. It's even possible that the closeness of the words has led to the meanings "bleeding" into one another.

  • 2
    Both words effect and affect can be either a verb or a noun, although affect (noun) is pronounced differently. And the fact that affect (verb) and effect (noun) seem like a noun-verb pair makes them completely confusing. Commented Jan 11, 2016 at 13:01
  • effect and affect are not a pair like the others, they are completely different words with coincidentally similar spellings. Commented Jan 11, 2016 at 14:41
  • @curiousdannii ... and in many dialects, identical pronunciations. Commented Jan 15, 2016 at 16:54

1 Answer 1


They are known as Heterographs, if they are spelled differently and have different meanings.

Heterographs are words that sound the same, but are spelled differently and have different meanings. They are also known as homophonic heterographs.

See the below Venn Diagram(From Wikimedia Commons)

Venn Diagram

Source : Wikipedia

  • advice and advise are pronounced differently. licence and license are pronounced the same. effect and affect may or may not be pronounced the same depending on the speaker. I would argue that within each pair they have the same meaning, even though the part of speech is different. This may not be a popular view, I don't know.
    – CJ Dennis
    Commented Jan 11, 2016 at 12:17
  • @CJDennis effect and affect don't have the same meaning at all; they're really just coincidentally similar. The question would be better if it asked about the noun and verb forms of both of those verbs separately. Commented Jan 11, 2016 at 14:40

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