To my understanding, heterographs are words that have different meanings, different spellings, but sound the same. Synophones are words that have different meanings, different spellings, and sound similar but not the same.

So, ball and bawl would be heterographs, while ball and bell would be synophones.

Is there a word that is combines the two? (Synograph? heterophone?)

Heteronym and homonym are both subsets of homograph, so I was hoping there was something similar for heterphaph and synophone...

  • 1
    If the only distinction between heterographs and synophones is that the former sound the same but the latter only sound similar, what characteristics would you expect this putative fusion of the two to have? You can't "sound the same" and "sound similar but not the same" at once. What defines as "synograph" or "heterophone"? – Dan Bron Mar 4 '16 at 16:38
  • I would say that according to your definition, heterographs (more commonly called homonyms) are a subset of "synophones": that is to say, everything that sounds the same as something also by definition sounds similar to it. If you're looking for a word to describe "something that is the same as another thing and also similar to the other thing" then that is logically redundant. I suspect you should just read this page: en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Homonym – Max Williams Mar 4 '16 at 16:51
  • I was looking for something that sounds the same or similar, but has different meaning and spelling... Heteronym has a different sound with the same spelling but different meanings, while homonym has the same sound with the same spelling and different meanings. Combining those two would be logically redundant as well since their definition excludes the other but homograph combines the two. – John Fehr Mar 4 '16 at 17:15

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.