Homonyms - Definition, Functions and Examples

One of the most confusing yet interesting topics in the English language is homonyms. Most students often get confused with homophones, homographs and homonyms. So, how would you explain to a student which pair of words are homonyms and which of them are homophones? Well, in this article, you will get to know all about homonyms. The following topics will be discussed in this article.

Table of Contents

What Are Homonyms? – Meaning and Definition

The word ‘homonym’ was derived from the Greek word “homonymos”, which means having the same name. In simple terms, homonyms are those words that have the same spelling or pronunciation but completely different meanings and functions. Homonyms, therefore, can be said to include both homophones and homographs.

According to the Oxford Learner’s Dictionary, a homonym is defined as “a word that is spelt like another word (or pronounced like it), but that has a different meaning.” For example, “The children played with a bat.” Here, ‘bat’ refers to the sports equipment used to play cricket. Whereas “The bats feast on the nectar of flowers.” Here, ‘bats’ refers to a type of animal that generally comes out at night.

To help you understand better and to avoid any sort of confusion, you can go through the list of commonly used homonyms along with their meanings, the part of speech they belong to and sentence examples so that you can use them correctly in the right context. Take a look at them.

List of Homonyms with Their Functions, Meanings and Examples

Here is a list of homonyms for your reference.

Table 1

Homonyms with the Same Spelling and/or Pronunciation


Homonym Part of Speech Meaning Sentence Example
Bear Noun A large, wild animal They saw a black bear.
Verb Being able to accept and deal with something You will have to bear the pain.
Right Adjective Correct or true You are right.
Noun The right side Meena sat on the right.
Adverb Correctly or exactly Everything that you told us was right.
Tear Noun A drop that comes from your eye when you cry She had tears in her eyes at the end of the movie.
Verb To pull something apart in pieces and damage it The little girl will tear up everything she gets.
Match Noun A game Do you know which team won the match?
Noun A small stick used to start a fire I used a match to light up the stove.
Verb To find something that is suitable My mom was looking for a lining material that matches the pastel-coloured saree she bought recently.
Ring Noun A jewel that you wear on your finger My father bought me a diamond ring
Noun A round object I used a ring to make a dreamcatcher.
Verb To call someone Manu will ring you in some time.
Verb To cause something to sound like a bell Did you hear the bell ring?
Kind Noun A group of people with similar characteristics We are one of a kind.
Adjective Being good, generous, helpful Beena is very kind.
Lie Noun Something untrue I think she is telling a lie.
Verb To quote something untrue My mom does not lie.
Verb To rest He is lying on the bed.
Bright Adjective Strong, full of light The sun is very bright today.
Adjective Intelligent, clever, learning quickly Aarathi is a bright student.
Address Noun The name and number of a building, the location of a building Sherly gave her address so that we would not lose our way.
Verb To write or speak to someone Today, Susan will be addressing the first-year students.
Watch Noun A device to check the time of the day I bought a new watch.
Verb To see or look at something Can you please watch the baby for an hour?

Table 2

Homonyms with Different Spellings but the Same Pronunciation
Homonym Part of Speech Meaning Sentence Example
Steal /


Verb To take something from someone without their permission You have to be careful while travelling, otherwise, someone will steal your belongings.
Noun A metal made from iron We have a door made of steel.
I / Eye Pronoun A pronoun used to refer to the self I am a content writer.
Noun An organ that is used to see or look at what is around you My eye is paining too badly.
Root / Route Noun A part of the plant that is normally underground I think this tree’s roots have gone too deep into the ground.
Noun A way through which one travels I know this route really well.
Blue / Blew Adjective A colour She has a pretty blue frock.
Verb To produce an airflow Santhosh blew air into the balloons.
Pair / Pear Noun / Verb Two similar things kept, taken or used together I bought a new pair of shoes.

The teacher paired me with my best friend.

Noun An edible fruit Do you like pears?
Threw / Through Verb To project an object to move rapidly through air The little boy threw the ball over the wall.
Preposition From one side of the opening to another We will be going through the newly-built tunnel.
Weight / Wait Noun The quantity or mass of an object What is the weight of that cupboard?
Verb To delay an action until another occurrence Can you please wait till we arrive?
Idol / Idle Noun An image or a representation of someone or something that is revered My father is my idol.
Adjective Not particularly occupied or engaged in anything Danny has been sitting idle from the time he woke up.
Paws / Pause Noun The soft foot of an animal My dog puts his paws on my lap every time I am sad as if to console me.
Verb To stop for some time We have been practising for so long. Can we pause for a while?
Choose / Chews Verb To make a choice or pick something What would you choose?
Verb To grind or crush food with your teeth My sister chews her food well because she cannot simply swallow her food.

Exercises on Homonyms

Fill in the blanks with the most appropriate homonym in the following sentences.

  1. The Queen honoured the brave ______. (knight/night)
  2. This dress ____ to be the perfect fit for Mary. (seems/seam)
  3. This _____ of the brave Queen goes back to a thousand ages. (tale/tail)
  4. There was a ____ in my shoe. (whole/hole)
  5. I can come to your house _____. (later/latter)
  6. This perfume has a strong _______ (cent/scent)
  7. Will she be able to _______ the pain? (bear)
  8. ___ your work, you should do it on your own. (its/it’s)
  9. Tina will ____ the prize tomorrow. (except/accept)
  10. The dog has been _____ (bark)


  1. The Queen honoured the brave knight. (knight/night)
  2. This dress seems to be the perfect fit for Mary. (seems/seam)
  3. This tale of the brave Queen goes back to a thousand ages. (tale/tail)
  4. There was a hole in my shoe. (whole/hole)
  5. I can come to your house later. (later/latter)
  6. This perfume has a strong scent. (cent/scent)
  7. Will she be able to bear the pain? (bear)
  8. It’s your work; you should do it on your own. (its/it’s)
  9. Tina will accept the prize tomorrow. (except/accept)
  10. The dog has been barking. (bark)

Frequently Asked Questions on Homonyms


What are homonyms?

The word homonym has derived from the Greek word “homonymos”, which means having the same name. Thus homonyms are those words that have the same spellings but completely different meanings.


What are homophones?

Homophones are words that are pronounced the same but have different meanings. Here the word ‘phone’ means sound, and the word ‘homo’ means the same/similar sound.


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