Are any two words that are synonyms and homonyms of each other

Are there any examples of any English words that are both synonyms and homonyms of each other? I would guess that over time one would become considered an alternate spelling and die out, so perhaps were there ever such words? Answer You may find this page of homonyms interesting. Some homonyms: Air – oxygen / … Read more

Opposing homonyms

I’m aware of precisely one word that is spelled and pronounced the same, yet has a completely opposite meaning depending on its context: sanction. On one hand, it is official permission for something. On the other hand, it is a penalty (so, the opposite of permission). Yet you could sanction (give permission for) a sanction … Read more

Why do ash (trees) and ash (burnt residue) have the same name?

I’ve often wondered why ash (trees) and ash (burnt residue) have the same name. I’ve looked up the origin of both words, but I don’t see anything that explains why the names are the same. From the Online Etymology Dictionary: ash (n.1) “powdery remains of fire,” Old English æsce “ash,” from Proto-Germanic * askon (source … Read more

Patient patient

The other day one of my students asked me an interesting question: why is patient as an adjective identical to patient as a noun? Isn’t it because a patient has to be patient to recover (follow the doctor’s advice etc.)? According to the Online Etymology Dictionary, the adjective “patient” means “pertaining to a medical patient”. … Read more

Extreme homonyms

I am looking for an example of extreme homonyms (same spelling different meaning). By extreme I mean drastically different in meaning. For example “bow” – a weapon to shoot projectiles with “bow” – the front of the ship These two words are homonyms, but they are close in meaning as they reflect something being bent. … Read more

Does the modern definition of “awful” come from its homonym to “offal”?

The following lines are found in Act I, Scene III of Julius Caesar: What trash is Rome, What rubbish and what offal, when it serves For the base matter to illuminate So vile a thing as Caesar! To my ears, the pronunciation of "offal" sounds very much like that for "awful", and this made me … Read more

Term for wordplay where a new spelling is made up for an existing word

I am familiar with homographs and homophones (and homonyms), but there is a different type of "word play" or "spelling play" I’ve seen come up as of recently that I’m trying to find out if there is a name for. Or if one for it simply just doesn’t exist. There’s a few examples I could … Read more

Do you contract a disease or a virus? Or either?

You are infected by a virus, not a disease. You can develop a disease, but not a virus (unless you are a virus-developing scientist, I guess — but you know that’s not what I mean). I guess what I’m trying to figure out is if there’s any exclusivity between contracting a virus or a disease, … Read more

Double meaning of relief

I was writing a report for an assignment and found myself wanting to write the following sentence. The resulting landscape shows more relief. In Dutch, "relief" only has the French meaning (cf. le relief) related to geography so it came natural to me. Then I realized that "relief" in English also (and probably mostly) refers … Read more