Monday, July 23, 2012

Same Word, Different Meaning

A few week s ago I wrote about homophones, those words that are pronounced alike but are spelled differently and have different meanings.

Something else writers, editors, and proofreaders need to look out for are heteronyms. Those are words that are spelled the same but have different meanings depending on pronunciation.

Here are a few examples:
I saw the Moody Blues live in concert.
I live in Frankfort, Ky.

I have the lead part in an upcoming play.
I broke the lead in my pencil.
(Writers seem to confuse lead and led.)

I feel very close to my family.
I wish someone would close the door.

I have friends who live near the desert in Arizona.
It’s not a good idea to desert friends over money.

As with misuses in word choices, I believe most of the time it’s simply a subconscious act. We get in a hurry and write the word that first comes to mind. But as writers, we know that’s not a good excuse.

And it doesn’t help that spell check won't catch the mistake. That’s another reason to have a good proofreader.

For more examples, check out the Heteronym Homepage.

Until the next time…


  1. More and more, I'm seeing the ones that sound the same but are spelled differently in recently published books. Makes me want to pull out the red pen and get to work.

    1. I agree with you, Devon. It takes a proofreader's eye -- more than a casual reading eye -- to find them.

  2. Very important post!Thanks for sharing!
    I wrote this one about male article plus female noun in portuguese language.Unfortunately, you have to know portuguese to understand it.Anyway, here it is:

    1. Thank you for your comment. I'll try to read your post once I get my Portuguese translator in Google working.

  3. it is so important what you say! thank you so much for remind us! :D xoxo