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A homonym is 'a word that both looks and sounds the same as another, but has a different meaning and etymology'. AWE takes the definition of homonym as in Chalker and Weiner (1998): as "A word that has both the same pronunciation and the same spelling as another but is etymologically unrelated to it."

  • Other authors, for example McArthur, 2014, say "One of two or more words that are identical in sound or spelling but different in meaning" (AWE's emboldening). Such authors say that there are three kinds of homonym: homophones, that sound alike; homographs that look alike; and the words that both look and sound alike; the third type not being separately named. But as the first two types already have their own names, it seems logical to retain homonym for the other, that does not. (Chalker and Weiner (1998) add "Loosely homonym is sometimes used for a word that has either the same sound or spelling as another (but not both)", (AWE's emboldening).)