What do you call words with identical spelling but different meaning and different pronunciation? A couple examples are bass and resume.

3 Answers 3


They are also called heteronyms.


They are homographs. Such words may or may not be pronounced the same. If you want to emphasise that your words are definitely not pronounced in the same way, you could say that they are heterophonic homographs.

  • 2
    I think 'heteronym' would be the more correct answer here. Since 'homographs' can have the same pronunciation. Jul 12, 2011 at 22:23
  • I think you are right! I though "heteronym" was just about meaning, the opposite of synonym, but it turns out it is asserting something about spelling (the same) and pronunciation (different) as well.
    – user10798
    Jul 12, 2011 at 22:41

Well, I would say "resume" doesn't qualify, as the different pronunciation is actually the French word "résumé" (note the accents, which do not appear in "native" English, and therefore there is no standard accent modifier key on a U.S. 104-key).

However, the term you are looking for is heteronym, defined here.

  • 1
    Yes but it's accepted to write "resume" in place of "résumé" in English, despite the supposed accent(s).
    – bcc32
    Jul 12, 2011 at 22:26
  • 1
    We can argue 'resume', but the term I was looking for is 'heteronym' NOT homograph. Jul 12, 2011 at 22:26

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