20 words that are spelled the same but have different meanings

ShutterstockThere are some words with multiple meanings.
  • There are plenty of words in the English language that are spelled the same but have completely different meanings.
  • A baseball bat and the nocturnal animal bat are considered a homonym because they are spelled and sound the same but have different meanings.
  • An airy wind and to wind down are homographs, as they are spelled the same way but they are pronounced differently and mean different things.

It’s no secret that the English language can be tricky. For anyone learning the language, it’s difficult to grasp all the drastic differences a single word can have.

People most get tripped up on words that are too similar. When words are spelled the same and sound the same but have different meanings, then they are called homonyms. When they are just spelled the same but sound different and have different meanings, then they are homographs.

Here are some of the most popular homonyms and homographs in the English language.


Shutterstock‘Bat’ as in the animal.

When used as a noun, a bat could be a winged, nocturnal animal or a piece of sporting equipment used in baseball. It can also be used as a verb when a player goes up to bat during a baseball game.


Shutterstock‘Compact’ could refer to makeup holder.

When used as an adjective, “compact” means small, but when used as a verb, it means to make something smaller. It can also be used as a noun when talking about a small case for makeup.


Janelle Lugge/Shutterstock‘Desert’ as in a barren land.

As a noun, “desert” is a dry, barren area of land where little rain occurs. When used as a verb, the word means to abandon a person or cause.


The word “fair” has a few meanings when used as different parts of speech. When used as an adjective, it can describe someone as agreeable, but it can also describe someone who has light skin or hair. As a noun, a “fair” is typically a local event that celebrates a certain person, place, or historical moment.


GettyTo lie down.

“Lie” could mean to lay down and to tell something untruthful when used as an adjective. If used as a noun, it is a false statement.


Shutterstock‘Lead’ used to be found in the pencil.

The word “lead” could be the verb that means to guide someone or something, while the noun version of the word pertains to the metal.


Maridav/Shutterstock‘Minute’ means 60 seconds.

The word “minute” can be a measure of time or a measurement of how small something is.


To decline or accept something is the verb form of “refuse,” while garbage is the noun form.


ShutterstockShadow puppets are projected on a wall.

The word “project” has several meanings as a verb. It could mean to plan, to throw, or to cast an image on a surface. As a noun, it is a task or piece of work.


Buda Mendes/ GettyComing in second is just one meaning of the word.

Like the word “minute,” “second” is another measurement of time, while it can also denote the placement of something after the first.


The word “fine” has several meanings, including two different adjectives. First, it can be used to describe something as high quality and second, it can describe something especially thin. As a noun, “fine” means a payment for a violation.


Danny Lawson – WPA Pool/Getty ImagesMeghan Markle making her wedding entrance.

When pronounced slightly differently, the word “entrance” has multiple meanings. As a noun, an entrance is a point of access and entry. It could also be used to describe a dramatic arrival, like a bride at her wedding. However, as a verb, to entrance means to bewitch and delight.


Alexander Baxevanis/FlickrClip is another word for cut.

The verb form of “clip” can actually get quite confusing. The word can actually mean to cut something apart or to attach together. The word even has a noun form, which is an object that helps attach two things.


Colin D. Young/ShutterstockCanyon overlook.

To overlook means to fail to notice something, but when the word is used as a noun, it is a place where you can look down and see from a higher vantage point.


Mandate Pictures‘Consult’ has two meanings.

“Consult” is another one of those tricky words that have two different meanings and they are opposites of each other. “To consult” can mean to seek advice or to give professional advice.


As a noun, a “row” means a fight or disagreement. It could also refer to how something is organised into a line. As a verb, “to row” means to propel a boat forward.


Mike Kemp/ GettyDiscounts are a reduction in price.

As a noun, “discount” is a reduction in price and can also be used as a synonym to “on sale.” But when used as a verb, the word means to underestimate someone or something and give them no value.


Wikimedia Commons‘Wind’ can be a gush of air like in a hurricane.

A subtle difference in pronunciation completely changes the word “wind.” It can refer to a flow of air or it can mean to turn.


Sean Gallup/Getty ImagesSigning a contract.

When used as a noun, “contract” is a written or verbal agreement, but when used as a verb, it means to acquire or to get.


As a noun, an “object” is anything that you can see or touch. It could also be a synonym to a “goal.” When used as a verb, it means to express your disapproval – typically used in courtrooms.

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