Homophones – words that sound the same

posted in: about words, language | 0

pile of dictionaires and a thesaurusFollowing on from my blog about homographs like tear, which can be pronounced two different ways from the same spelling, today’s blog is about homophones, which sound the same from different spellings.

As before, I’ve been having fun making sentences using both (or even all three) different spellings to illustrate the point.

Most of these I have seen used incorrectly, which can have hilarious results. However, all these sentences are my own (except for the ‘weather’ one), so as not to embarrass the original authors.


 Some examples

You’re not being responsible for your dog.

I can’t hear you, come over here.

A whole lot of cement was needed to fill the hole.

I knew he needed new shoes!

polar bear, sniffing the airI saw a bare bear!

The board meeting was full of bored people. (Or should they just be called ‘bored meetings’, to avoid raising expectations?)

Now, look along the line-up and tell me which witch you saw.

Trying to keep her waist slim was a waste of time.

That drawer has all the pens to draw with. (A commonly-seen error is to refer to a ‘chest of draws’.)

The hare bounded away, leaving some hair caught in the fence.

We’re going to cache the jewels, gold and cash here, under the porch.

The heir threw his cap into the air on hearing what he’d inherited.

The cricket captain bowled a bold over.

The bard was barred from singing his awful songs. Also, his band was banned!

When he saw what was in the pail, he went very pale.

The fair had various food stands selling typical fare.

‘A glass of ale, and tell me what doth ail thee, young man.’

In summary, the range of clothing was very summery – nice for the season.

muffins baking in the ovenMy nose knows the smell of baking cake

The jeans had a subtle flare, and she wore them with flair.

At the factory the apples shoot down the chute.

All of the tools went into the box; hammer, screwdriver, spanners and awl. (Hey, maybe Uncle Tom Cobley was a carpenter – Uncle Tom Cobley and awl!)

The actor’s role required him to roll off the stage.

At the base of the stage, the bass travelled through your whole body. (Bass the fish is pronounced differently, with a flat a.)

That is my cue to join the queue.

We gave the nice parking attendant a wave as we left, as he had agreed to waive our fine. (Implausible, but correct.)

He was rather forward, commenting on his brother’s bad habits in the foreword to the book.

The council decided to seek legal counsel on the matter. (Councillor and counsellor are different too, the latter being an adviser, while the former is usually elected.)

Now, take this one slowly: Whether the weather be cold, or whether the weather be hot, we’ll weather the weather whatever the weather, whether we like it or not!


Some threes…

They’re over there eating their ice-creams.

I saw the eagle had a sore tail, though she could still soar on the thermals.

In a fit of pique, she climbed the peak to peek into the hidden valley.

She was vain; she hated the blue vein on her leg and the birthmark shaped like a weather vane.


There are some I’ve struggled to fit plausibly into the same sentence…

Sole and soul, for instance. Sole being a fish or the bottom of a shoe, and soul being spirit or essence.

Taylor is the usual spelling for a proper name, where tailor is the verb and the job.

To hew, meaning to cut, for instance wood, and hue, meaning colour, I’ve seen confused once, bringing to mind a multi-coloured log cabin, where the author meant a hand-cut, rustic-looking one.

I’ve also seen someone described as towing the line, which sounds like it could be correct, but isn’t. The proper phrase is ‘to toe the line’, meaning to do what is expected of you, originating from old-style boxing matches. He toed the line, he towed the truck away, and what about the toad?

Stationery and stationary I’ve already discussed elsewhere – one hopes that one’s stationery remains stationary and doesn’t creep away.

Likewise principal and principle – the principal has high principles and expects you to keep to them.

Naval and navel I’ve also seen incorrectly used. Naval refers to the navy, where your navel is your belly. Naval gazing, therefore, is entirely different to navel gazing, and could get you arrested for spying in certain circles!



Please do let me know if you find any other homophones, especially incorrectly used, and thanks for reading.

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