Is there a term for words that have the same spelling, different meanings, and different number of syllables for their pronunciations?

The only example I can think of is resume and résumé. The only problem with this example is it technically isn’t the same spelling though since there are accents in résumé. But resume and résumé do have different meanings, and different number of syllables in their pronunciations. Are there any other words that someone can think of that have same spelling, different meanings AND number of syllables. And is there a term for these words?

Update: another “heteronym with varying syllables” I just thought of: blessed (used as a verb) would be pronounced “blest”, as in, "Uncle Joey blessed our Thanksgiving dinner", while blessed used adjectivally may be pronounced “blesid”, as in, "He loved his blessed freedom."

  • Blessed can be one or two syllables, though the meanings are pretty related and pronunciations are not consistently applied to the same meanings.
    – nnnnnn
    Nov 22, 2019 at 4:03
  • 2
    Update - you "just thought of" blessed? Coincidentally after I suggested it?
    – nnnnnn
    Nov 22, 2019 at 21:35
  • 1
    Different amounts of syllables? Are you weighing them?
    – David
    Nov 24, 2019 at 20:49
  • 1
    I'd weigh your words but count your syllables.
    – David
    Nov 25, 2019 at 17:07
  • 1
    forte and forte
    – shoover
    Nov 25, 2019 at 23:56

4 Answers 4


The closest definition I could find is that of the heteronym:

A heteronym (also known as a heterophone) is a word that has a different pronunciation and meaning from another word but the same spelling. These are homographs that are not homophones.

Heteronyms don't necessarily have a different amount of syllables, but these are included. Other examples of heteronyms are present, produce, lead, and desert.

Drawer ('compartment in a cupboard'; 'someone who draws') would be a heteronym with a different amount of syllables.

Edit: these are apparently also referred to as 'accent heteronyms'.


(Seeing as answers are getting posted, which give examples of the phenomenon rather than a term for it:)

agape ['ægəpi] selfless Christian love

agape [ə'geɪp] with gaping mouth

coax [koʊks] to persuade by fondling or flattery

coax ['koʊæks] coaxial cable

manes ['meɪnz] long hair on the back of the necks of horses, lions etc.

manes ['meɪniz] (Roman myth) the spirits of the dead

moped [moʊpt] moved aimlessly and listlessly

moped ['moʊpɛd] lightweight motorcycle

Definitions adapted from, and pronunciations translated to IPA from, Chambers English Dictionary

  • 1
    Why don't you incorporate your earlier answer into this one, and then delete the old one - that way you can post these examples, and avoid the objection that the answer is not really an answer.
    – jsw29
    May 16, 2022 at 20:10

Words which are written the same way are homographs. I don't know of a specific term for homographs with different numbers of syllables.


Wicked, past tense of wick has 1 syllable, the adjective has two. I'm guessing there are a few others that end in -ed, not sure if there would be any that don't.

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