Is the word "homophone" misleading?


I remember a language learning app that claimed to help users to distinguish between the words like right-write, break-brake, heal-heel, principle-principal, etc.

However, I have long known them as homophones. This leads me to a question : Is the word "homophone" misleading? If one can distinguish between the said words, they should not be called homophones.


Posted 2019-08-19T18:43:02.693

Reputation: 1 455

2Curious: did it claim to teach you how to distinguish them by sound or by context? – jonathanjo – 2019-08-19T19:07:30.007

1homophone means that they *sound* the same; they can still be distinguished contextually and orthographically – StoneyB on hiatus – 2019-08-19T20:44:40.743

1Now I'm curious: what did you think homophone means? – Anton Sherwood – 2019-08-20T00:53:51.187

@jonathanjo By sound. – curious – 2019-08-20T05:51:38.653

@AntonSherwood I have always known homophones as words that have different spellings but same pronunciation. – curious – 2019-08-20T05:57:23.403

Do the pairs that you listed not fit that definition? – Anton Sherwood – 2019-08-20T22:01:04.510



These words are homophones. If you are attempting to distinguish them by sound you will fail, as there is no difference in sound (there may be differences in some dialects, but none that I am aware of)

So these words are homophones. They have the same sound (but different meanings)

It is appropriate to call these words homophones. You can distinguish only by semantic context and by the grammatical function of the word. Genuine confusion is rare.

James K

Posted 2019-08-19T18:43:02.693

Reputation: 80 781

2It's just worth reminding that pronunciation is not uniform, and "homophone" has to be understood relative to a particular accent or group of accents. For example, in Scottish English, "loch" is /lɒx/ and "lock" is /lɒk/; in many English and American accents, both are /lɒk/. In general though, "homophone" would be understood to mean "homophone in most or all common accents". All of the original examples would be homophones in standard BrE and AmE and every accent I know of. – jonathanjo – 2019-08-20T10:00:16.693