Homographs are words in a language that have the same spelling but different meanings. As a native speaker, when we hear Homographs, we don’t actively focus on them but understand the meaning that is being communicated depending on the context.
But for somebody learning a new language, these can be very tricky and using them wrong can garner unwanted attention or laughter. Imagine- when somebody says “Yes, we are free tomorrow”, you know they mean to say that they are unoccupied. But many beginners in the language won’t know the difference between ‘Free- unoccupied’ and ‘Free-without charge‘. And that’s going to cause quite a stir!
Here is a list of Homographs we come across in our daily lives but never realize how many different meanings a single word has.
- Bow- to bend/ a pair of tied loops/ the front of a boat
- Ball- one you throw/ the other you dance at
- Content- happy/ something contained
- Contract- acquire/ an agreement/ to make small
- Coordinate- to organize/ numbers showing position
- Desert- to flee/ a hot region
- Fine- well/ an amount paid as punishment/ thin
- Lead- a metal/ to go first
- Minute- very tiny/ 60 seconds (this is a pair that is pronounced differently)
- Object- a thing/ to oppose
- Project- to show/ a plan
- Row- a fight/ a line/ to propel a boat forward
- Subject- topic/ people under a king’s rule
- Tear- to rip/ drop of water from the eye (pronounced differently again)
- Gear- used to drive/ a kit for any sport/ equipment
- Watch- to see/ an object that shows time/ duty of looking out
- Grill- method of cooking/ a metal gate/ interrogate
- Apply- to register for/ to spread evenly
- Beat- a part of music/ to hit
- Dear- loved one/ expensive