There's a (very small) number of words that have different etymologies, and consequently different meanings. For example, the word bass can refer to:

  • Low sound (as in your music player), pronounced "base"
  • A kind of fish, pronounced "baas"

The first meaning has a Latinate origin, while the second one has a Germanic origin.

It's the only word of this kind that I know. I wonder if

  1. Are there any more examples?
  2. What's the name for this category of words (terminology)?

Note: Words like "present" don't count since both its noun form and its verb form come from the same Latin root.


2 Answers 2


The question seems to be asking for a term for a word that is not only polysemous (has different meanings), but whose different meanings are associated with completely different origins, so that one can say that one is here dealing with two entirely different words that only accidentally happened to have the same spelling. The term for such words is homonyms (but note that the use of that term requires that one speak of two different words, rather than one word with different meanings). If one wishes to focus only on the sameness of spelling, and so make it clear that the pronunciation may be different, one may call them homographs.

  • 1
    The OP appears to be looking to a terms that defines the multiple etymology of a polysemic term.
    – user 66974
    Jun 4, 2020 at 17:42
  • 1
    @user 66974 Polysemes by definition have the same etymology up to the point of branching. Mar 1, 2021 at 19:11

Most homonyms would have the property of coincidentally similar pronunciation and spelling but different meanings due to different etymology.

Groat - the hulled kernels of grain from old German “grot” - a particle ( same origin as “grit” )


Groat - an old English, Austrian or German coins worth four pence or 1/30 of a Thaler - from the Old German “grosse” - large or thick. A slightly thicker than a pence coin.

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