Word association: different types of homonyms 

 Homonym is a catch all term for similar words. This matrix gives a general definition of the different types. It’s sometimes confusing which is which, but it’s interesting in the English language. In between synonyms being a differently spelled and pronounced word meaning the same, and the antonym being the opposite of a  word in meaning, there’s a grey area in English that exists. This matrix above sums up exactly what the differences are. 

Heteronym – different meaning, different pronunciation, same spelling 

Two words that are spelt the same, but the pronunciation and meaning are different. Essentially, the opposite of a homonym. For instance, read for present tense and read in past tense. 

Homograph – same spelling, different meaning

Two words spelt the same, but have a different meaning. The dictionaries sometimes insists that they sound differently, but others imply they might be pronounced the same.  If the words are pronounced differently but spelt the same, it makes them a heteronym. 

Heterograph: – same sound, different spelling

Spelt differently and means something different, but sounds the same. Think of bow and bough, as a classic example. Or even better, check and cheque. 

Homophone: – same sound, different meaning 

Two words that sound the same, with a different meaning. They may or may not be spelled the same. Carat and carrot are fabulous examples

Homonym – same spelling, same pronunciation, different meaning 

Spelled and pronounced the same, but different meaning. Unlike the others, to be a homonym, the spelling and pronunciation need to be exactly the same. Beams and beams is a good example. 


Two very different word with a similar meaning. These words may have a common theme,  such as rays and beams for sunshine. 

Polysemy: – same meaning

The same word with multiple similar meanings in various contexts. Perhaps more to do with grammar, as this might change with tense. 

In poetry

In poetry, rhyming words and syllables are pretty important. As we know, the ideal solution is to have a perfect, or near perfect rhyme. 

Perfect rhyme: 

Where almost the whole words are identical beam and  and beam are perfect rhymes,maps are slight and flight. 

Imperfect rhyme: 

A rhyme between a stressed and unstressed syllable like wing and caring. Note here the two words do not have the same number of syllables. 

Weak rhyme: 

A rhyme on on two unstressed syllables, hammer and carpenter. Normally, there is either two stressed, a stressed and an unstressed or a stressed following two unstressed. 

Half rhyme: 

A rhyme on matching final consonants. these words sound similar but not the same, Roxie and Lexie. Now, it’s very popular to be seen in rap music as a form of creative license. 


All Consonants match, but not vowels, like tall and tell. Wilfred Owen is famous for using this type of of rhyme in his poetry. 


Where a single vowel in two words match, like scrape and strap. An unusual form of rhyme in only one type of vowel matches, rather than a whole word. 


Only the last syllable must rhyme here. The words will probably be placed at the end of melodious verse, like in John Donne’s “lecture upon the shadow ” with the rhyme of spent and went. The stress is on the final syllables, like rhyme and sublime.


Also known as a feminine rhyme. The stress is on the second from last syllables, like picky and tricky. So two syllables are rhyming in a verse. The final syllables are unstressed. 


The stress is on  the the third or ante penultimate syllables, like  cacophanies and Aristophanes. Three syllables are are rhyming here. Dactyl syllables can be carried over more prosaic verse like in a play, meaning they are sometimes stressed over three words in a stands. 

Eye rhyme: 

two words that are spelt similarly are called eye rhymes. In the past, they might’ve been produced differently than the usual contemporary pronunciation. Cough and bough are eye rhymes, as are love and move. 

Mind rhyme: 

Where the word supposed to rhyme is implied by the writer, thus allowing the reader to fil in the blanks. Enjambment or sentence fragmentation might be used to to cover up a rhyme that could be rude:

One very hot day in the summer last year

A young man was seen swimming round Brighton Pier;

He dived underneath it and swam to a rock

And amused all the ladies by shaking his

Fist at a copper who stood on the shore

So far, pier and year are rhyming. If it weren’t for enjambment, a word rhyming with rock would be needed. We’re putting money on it being cock (yep, I went there). What I’m Getting at is the writer knows your brain should  autocorrect the word that disrupts the pattern of the rhyme. 


Two sentences that that rhyming sounds, but the words are spelled differently. It’s essentially a long string of multiple homophones with the same same sounds mirrored in every word. In French, it’s called rime riche, of more than three rhyming phonemes. The equivalent in English is “I scream for ice cream”. 

Gall, amant de la Reine, alla, tour magnanime!

Galamment de l’Arène à la Tour Magne, à Nîmes.

Alternate rhyme: 

Also known as a broken rhyme, it is also a form of enjambment. Either two rhyming end lines, or a switch between A and B rhymes. Seen commonly in poems such as “The Raven” with lore and more rhyming. 

Tongue twisters: 

Like Holorhyme, only with difficult phonemes so the words are mixed up. ‘She sells sea shells on the sea shore’ is a well known example here. 


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