Venn Diagram of Homograph and Other Linguistic Concepts

What is a heterograph? Is it the same as a heteronym? How about the difference between homonym and homophone?

Let’s try it another way…

What do you call to/too/two? Is it the same as desert/desert? Or tire/tire?

Check out this Venn Diagram (Wikipedia) that show the relationships between words with the same pronunciation, same spelling, and same meaning.


Source: Wikipedia


Grammar Lesson: The Prefix “homo-“

It’s time for a quick grammar lesson with a side of a “politically correct” English lesson.

You can thank the Nomen Global Language Center and the firing of blogger Tim Torkildson for writing a post about…homophones.

downloadYes, a global language center who focuses on teaching English as a Second Language (or third, fourth, etc.) was worried that a blog post explaining homophones “creat[ed] the perception that the school promoted a gay agenda.”

According to Torkildson, the owner of the Nomen Center, Clarke Woodger, complained that “now our school is going to be associated with homosexuality.” 

Woodger, of course, cited none of this officially.   Blogger Paul Rolly noted that Nomen catered to foreign students seeking admission into United States colleges and universities; however, “Woodger says his school has taught 6,500 students from 58 countries during the past 15 years. Most of them, he says, are at basic levels of English and are not ready for the more complicated concepts such as homophones.”

If a foreign student cannot understand the difference between “be” and “bee”, than that student is not ready to attend a US college or university.

However, this blog post is not about the firing of Torkildson.  It is about the prefix “homo-“.

DEFINITION: Same.             EXAMPLES:

  • homophone (same sound/pronunciation, different spelling)
  • homograph (same spelling, different sound/pronunciation or meaning)
  • homonym (same spelling and same sound, different meaning)
  • homogenize (to change something so all parts become the same)
  • homograft (a skin graft from the same person)
  • homopaternal (same father)
  • homoplasmy (same mutation)


What do these definitions have in common?  The concept of “SAME”.  NOT sex.  The prefix “homo-” only refers to sexual concepts when used with a base word that is a sexual concept.   Thus, homosexuality.

Lastly: note the etymology of words and the power of language.  Homophobia actually means “to fear sameness”.  It has nothing to do with sex.


Homonyms and Homographs

This was forwarded to me, so sadly, I do not take credit for it, nor do I know who wrote it.  Nevertheless, it is funny to share some examples of homonyms and homographs (words that sound the same but have different meanings that may or may not be spelled different).


You think English is easy??

1) The bandage was wound around the wound.

2) The farm was used to produce produce.

3) The dump was so full that it had to refuse more refuse.

4) We must polish the Polish furniture.

5) He could lead if he would get the lead out.

6) The soldier decided to desert his dessert in the desert.

7) Since there is no time like the present, he thought it was time to present the present.

8 ) A bass was painted on the head of the bass drum.

9) When shot at, the dove dove into the bushes.

10) I did not object to the object.

11) The insurance was invalid for the invalid.

12) There was a row among the oarsmen about how to row.

13) They were too close to the door to close it.

14) The buck does funny things when the does are present.

15) A seamstress and a sewer fell down into a sewer line.

16) To help with planting, the farmer taught his sow to sow.

17) The wind was too strong to wind the sail.

18) Upon seeing the tear in the painting I shed a tear.

19) I had to subject the subject to a series of tests.

20) How can I intimate this to my most intimate friend?

Let’s face it – English is a crazy language. There is no egg in eggplant, nor ham in hamburger; neither apple nor pine in pineapple. English muffins weren’t invented in England or French fries in France . Sweetmeats are candies while sweetbreads, which aren’t sweet, are meat. We take English for granted. But if we explore its paradoxes, we find that quicksand can work slowly, boxing rings are square and a guinea pig is neither from Guinea nor is it a pig.

And why is it that writers write but fingers don’t fing, grocers don’t groce and hammers don’t ham? If the plural of tooth is teeth, why isn’t the plural of booth, beeth? One goose, 2 geese. So one moose, 2 meese? One index, 2 indices? Doesn’t it seem crazy that you can make amends but not one amend? If you have a bunch of odds and ends and get rid of all but one of them, what do you call it?

If teachers taught, why didn’t preachers praught? If a vegetarian eats vegetables, what does a humanitarian eat? Sometimes I think all the English speakers should be committed to an asylum for the verbally insane. In what language do people recite at a play and play at a recital? Ship by truck and send cargo by ship? Have noses that run and feet that smell?

How can a slim chance and a fat chance be the same, while a wise man and a wise guy are opposites? You have to marvel at the unique lunacy of a language in which your house can burn up as it burns down, in which you fill in a form by filling it out and in which, an alarm goes off by going on.

English was invented by people, not computers, and it reflects the creativity of the human race, which, of course, is not a race at all. That is why, when the stars are out, they are visible, but when the lights are out, they are invisible.

PS. – Why doesn’t ‘Buick’ rhyme with ‘quick’ ?