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Definition of Heteronyms (with examples)

Updated on September 6, 2014


Heteronyms: Words that are spelled the same but that differ in pronunciation and meaning. Example:combine (to merge or unite) and combine (an agricultural threshing machine)


The following is a list of some common heteronyms and their pronunciations.

Attribute: ah-trib-BUTE and a-TRIB-ute

Basil: bay-sil and bah-zil

Bass: b-ace and b-ass

Bow: b-oh and b-ow

Content: CON-tent and cun-TENT

Contest: CON-test and cun-test

Contract: CON-tract and CUN-tract

Desert: DEZ-urt and DE-zurt

Deliberate: dee-LIB-raht and DEE-liber-ATE

Does: doh-zz and duh-zz

Dove: duh-v and doh-v

Excuse: EX-you-ss and ex-KEW-z

Incense: IN-sense and in-SENSE

Invalid: INVA-lid and in-VAL-id

Intimate: in-ta-mat and inta-MATE

Lather: LAH-ther and LAY-ther

Lead: leed and lead

Minute: min-UH-t and MY-newt

Moderate: MOD-erate and mod-ER-AH-t

Object: OB-ject and ob-JECK

Produce | Source

Perfect: Per-FECT and PUR-fect

Permit: PUR-mit and per-MITT

Present: pre-zent and prez-ent

Primer: PRY-mer and PREE-me-air

Produce: PRO-duce and Pro-DUCE

Project: PRO-jeckt and PRAH-jeckt

Rebel: reh-BELL and REB-ill

Record: re-CORD and RECK-ord

Recreation: RECK-ree-a-shun and REE-cre-a-shun

Refuse: re-FUSE and REF-yoos

Reside: ree-ZIDE and RE-side

Resume: ree-zoom and REZ-oo-may

Row: r-oh and r-ow

Secreted: suh-CREET-ed and SEEK-rhet-ed

Separate: sep-er-ATE and SEP-rhet

Sewer: s-oh-er and s-ew-er

Sow: s-oh and s-ow

Subject: SUB-jekt and sub-JEKT

Tear: t-air and t-ear

Wind: win-d and why-n-d

Wound: woo-nd and wow-nd

Learn more ...

I hope this has been of use to you. You can also learn about:

  • Homonyms (Words that same sound and often have the same spelling, but different meanings.)
  • Homographs (Words spelled alike but different in meaning.)
  • Homophones (Words pronounced the same but are different in spelling and meaning.)

© 2011 Rosa Marchisella


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    • I Am Rosa profile image

      Rosa Marchisella 6 years ago from Canada

      *nods at Flora* My fav is when folk pronounce the herb "Baaaah-zil" like the name. "Ah yes, I see you like to name your plant-life, too" :-D

    • FloraBreenRobison profile image

      FloraBreenRobison 6 years ago

      Yes, this is the group that gives me fits with spelling when I do have trouble. Especially with typing. I never remember how to pronouce Basil as a name-the only one I've heard of us is Basil Rathbone and I find myself automatically pronoucing his name like the herb.

    • I Am Rosa profile image

      Rosa Marchisella 6 years ago from Canada

      Excellent. Mission accomplished :-)

    • profile image

      Binaya.Ghimire 6 years ago

      Yes, the series on proper word usage and vocabulary is very informative. But I must come back again to further grasp the inner meanings.