Same Word, Different Meanings

Same Word, Different Meanings

LEVEL 4, 5, 3 |

The more homographs you know, the clearer things become. Listen and learn!


Voiced by Gregory Theiner

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Same Word, Different Meanings

English has words which are spelled the same, sound the same, but have different meanings. These words are called “homographs”. Homographs are everywhere!

Let's begin with mealtimes. We often use glasses – containers for drink, not devices for sight. A loaf of bread is not lazy but rather a large quantity, sometimes whole and sometimes sliced. We might ask people to pass us the punch – a fruity drink, as opposed to a smack with a fist. Dates could be served – a type of dried fruit, not particular days in particular months. On festive occasions, we could raise a toast – nice words said before drinking alcohol rather than a piece of cooked bread. Those without dishwashers will need to clean the dishes in the sink – a place with water and a drain, not what boats do when they go under water.

Homographs are outside, too. Saying, “the sun rose” is a reference to morning rather than a type of flower. If a cave is full of bats, most likely it has many winged creatures, not lots of baseball equipment used for hitting balls. Going to the park means arriving at a site with trees, flowers, and grass as opposed to going to park (notice there is no “the”) which describes putting the car in a specific place. The river bank is not where fish store their wealth but the earthy part where the river stops and the rest of the dry ground begins. If someone tells you to duck, they want you to bend so you don't hit your head as opposed to looking at a type of water bird. A stadium filled with sports fans has lots of people who support the team and not a large number of cooling devices for athletes.

There are also homographs regarding people. Someone who is bright does not require you to wear sunglasses to look at him or her, rather is thought of as intelligent. If two people are a good match, they suit each other well as opposed to being a high quality item for starting fires. When people are trained, they are not loaded onto a form of transportation but taught how to do something. Told to watch her little brother, the sister should not decorate him with small clocks but keep an eye on him.

Business has its own homographs. Arms dealers sell weapons rather than limbs with hands. A firm with a fine is not something unsoft that is good quality, but a company that needs to pay a penalty.

These tricky words are even found when building or doing repairs. A coat of paint doesn't have sleeves but refers to a layer of color. If the paint shade is too light, it doesn't need to be heavier but darker. Hammering nails refers to pounding bits of metal NOT the tips of your fingers!

If you can't bear ( withstand, not the animal) hearing any more, I can (be able to as opposed to a metal container) sympathize. Should you want to box my ears ( hit, not put into a carton)  in frustration, well (word for a pause rather than a source of water), you may just have a point. At the risk of sounding fresh ( rude, not new), I'll just state (say rather than a part of a country) that the more homographs you know, the clearer things become. And that's no lie (untruth as opposed to recline).