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Words with multiple meaning – CSEET

Words with multiple meaning – CSEET

A wealth of words with multiple meanings exist in the English language. Technically, almost every word has multiple meanings. How often do you look up a word in the dictionary and find only one meaning listed next to it? Practically never!

Most words have slightly varying meanings, or they can be used as different parts of speech. For now, let’s focus on words that have multiple meanings in a broader sense. Together, let’s explore homonyms, homophones, and homographs.

Homonyms

Homonyms are words that have the same spelling and pronunciation, but different meanings. It’s tricky when words sound the same but can mean different things. This is where context clues come into play. Even though one word can morph into multiple meanings, the rest of the sentence should give us an idea of what’s being discussed.

Here are some sample sentences illustrating popular homonyms:

  • Crane
    That bird is a crane.
    They had to use a crane to lift the object.
    She had to crane her neck to see the movie.
  • Date
    Her favorite fruit to eat is a date.
    Joe took Alexandria out on a date.
    Not to date myself, but I remember listening to radio shows as a kid.
    What is your date of birth?
  • Engaged
    They got engaged on March 7th.
    The students were very engaged in the presentation.
  • Foil
    Please wrap the sandwich in aluminum foil.
    They learned about the role of a dramatic foil in English class.
  • Leaves
    The children love to play in the leaves.
    They do not like when their father leaves for work.
  • Net
    What was your net gain for the year?
    Crabbing is easier if you bring a net along.
  • Point
    The pencil has a sharp point.
    It is not polite to point at people.
  • Right
    You were right.
    Make a right turn at the light.
    Access to clean water is a basic human right.
  • Rose
    My favorite flower is a rose.
    He quickly rose from his seat.
  • Type
    He can type over 100 words per minute.
    That guy is really not her type.

Homophones

Homophones are words that have the same pronunciation, but different spellings and meanings. Here we have a slight variation. These words will sound the same in our speech, but their spellings aren’t the same and their meanings certainly aren’t.

Enjoy these examples of homophones:

  • Alter/Altar
    How did you alter your identity?
    Let’s go worship the Lord at the altar.
  • Ate/Eight
    Together, we ate three large pizza pies.
    There were eight of us in total.
  • Band/Banned
    Let’s go watch my favorite band perform at the theatre.
    We banned together in support of her new music.
  • Blew/Blue
    Caleb blew out his birthday candles.
    I can’t believe he bought blue suede shoes.
  • Boar/Bore
    They had to hunt boar to survive on the deserted island.
    Please do not bore me.
  • Buy/Bye/By
    Why did she buy a $1,400 purse?
    I wish we didn’t have to say bye.
    Don’t let life pass you by.
  • Canon/Cannon
    The canon law of the Catholic church offers rules to live by.
    Let’s go look at the old cannon at Fort Henry.
  • Coarse/Course
    The horse had a coarse mane.
    She teaches a really difficult course.
  • Fair/Fare
    Even though her course is tough, she’s a fair professor.
    Do you have our bus fare?
    Wow, he isn’t going to fare well in Congress.
  • Foul/Fowl
    This tea gives off a really foul smell.
    Did you know ducks are waterfowl?
  • Genes/Jeans
    They have the same Scottish genes.
    I’d like to buy a pair of dark wash jeans.
  • Grate/Great
    Her heel got stuck in a New York City grate.
    Will you grate the cheese while I chop the garlic?
    Your fettucini alfredo was great.
  • Hour/Our
    She teaches a two-hour seminar.
    This is our third trip to Japan.
  • In/Inn
    I can’t believe she stepped in wet cement.
    Would you like a room at the inn?
  • Knight/Night
    The queen’s former knight haunts the castle.
    I don’t want to spend another night at this castle.
  • Maize/Maze
    She makes her tacos out of maize from Peru.
    This airport is such a maze, I’m not sure we’re going to make our flight.
  • Meddle/Metal/Medal
    I wish she wouldn’t meddle in my affairs.
    Her incense holder is made of metal.
    She was so proud to win the spelling bee medal.
  • No/Know
    There are no more shoes left.
    I don’t know where they all went.
  • Nose/Knows
    Yesterday, she got her nose pierced.
    She knows her parents won’t approve.
  • Pale/Pail
    She has pale skin and freckles.
    He poured paint in the pail.
  • Rain/Reign/Rein
    Don’t you love falling asleep to the sound of rain?
    We can’t wait to see Will and Kate’s reign.
    Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer needs a new rein.
  • Red/Read
    Can I borrow your red lipstick?
    I already read last night’s homework assignment.
  • Role/Roll
    Are you ready to start your new role at the company?
    You have to roll the dough to make a croissant.
  • Sea/See
    She moved from the sea to Tennessee.
    Did you see how fast Penny can run?
  • Their/There/They’re
    We love their new house.
    I asked you to sit over there.
    They’re going on a trip to Italy.
  • Veil/Vale
    Did you see Prince Harry lift Meghan’s veil?
    I’d love to live in a cabin in the Vale of Heignesh.

Homographs

Homographs are words that are spelled the same, but have different pronunciations and meanings. As far as our speech, this makes homographs easy to distinguish. However, when we’re reading, we have to be careful to rely on our context clues. Let’s take a look:

  • Bass
    They caught a bass on their fishing trip.
    His voice belongs in the bass section.
  • Bow
    She put a bow in her daughter’s hair.
    Please bow down to the emperor.
  • Does
    He does his homework every night.
    There were many bucks and does in the forest.
  • Learned
    The class learned that information last week.
    He is a very learned individual.
  • Minute
    That is only a minute problem.
    Wait a minute!
  • Read
    She is going to read the book later.
    He read the book last night.
  • Sewer
    The rats crept through the sewer.
    She is a fine sewer and fixed my torn dress.
  • Sow
    sow is a female pig.
    We’ll sow the seeds in springtime.
  • Wind
    The wind swept up the leaves.
    Wind the clock up before you go to bed.
  • Wound
    They wound up the toy as soon as they got it.
    She received a wound from the punch.

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