Heteronym (het·​ero·​nym)

Definition of Heteronym

  1. One of two or more homographs (such as a bass voice and bass, a fish) that differ in pronunciation and meaning.

What is a Heteronym

heteronym one of two or more words spelled alike but with different meaning and pronunciation. One example is row, which can mean using oars to propel a boat, a line of something, or a loud argument. Heteronyms are homographs that are not pronounced the same.  Heteronyms are also homographs that are not homophones, because homophones  can differ in spelling and homographs have the same spelling. 

20 Common Heteronyms

  1. Close: Nearby, not far away / To shut
  2. Contest: A competition / To oppose an action or theory
  3. Desert: A hot, dry region / To leave a place
  4. Digest: A collection of published material / To absorb nutrients
  5. Excuse: A reason or explanation / To let someone off from punishment
  6. Extract: A section from a piece of writing / To remove or take out
  7. House: A building that serves as living quarters / To provide living quarters
  8. Invalid: Someone who is ill / Not valid or legal
  9. Lead: To go first with others following / A heavy metal
  10. Minute: A unit of time / Something that is tiny
  11. Object: A material thing that can be seen and touched / To express opposition to or disagreement with something
  12. Perfect: When it is exactly correct / To make corrections
  13. Permit: To allow something to happen / A document that gives permission
  14. Rebel: Someone who is a resister / To resist
  15. Refuse: Garbage or rubbish / To reject or to say ‘No’
  16. Row: A line of something / A fight between parties
  17. Subject: A person or thing that is being discussed or described / To cause or force someone or something to undergo an unpleasant experience
  18. Tear: To rip something   The liquid that flows from eyes when crying
  19. Wound: The past tense of ‘wind’ / An injury
  20. Wind: To turn something / An aspect of the weather