Heteronyms and Homographs for a bit of fun:

Homographs are words of like spelling but with more than one meaning. A homograph that is also pronounced differently is a heteronym.

You think English is easy??
I think a retired English teacher was bored… THIS IS GREAT!
Read all the way to the end…
This took a lot of work to put together!

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 animal organs. 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’?

You lovers of the English language might enjoy this.

There is a two-letter word that perhaps has more meanings than any other two-letter word, and that is ‘UP.’
It’s easy to understand UP, meaning toward the sky or at the top of the list, but when we awaken in the morning, why do we wake UP?
At a meeting, why does a topic come UP?
Why do we speak UP and why are the officers UP for election and why is it UP to the secretary to write UP a report? We call UP our friends.
And we use it to brighten UP a room, polish UP the silver; we warm UP the leftovers and clean UP the kitchen.
We lock UP the house and some guys fix UP the old car.
At other times the little word has real special meaning.
People stir UP trouble, line UP for tickets, work UP an appetite, and think UP excuses.
To be dressed is one thing, but to be dressed UP is special.
A drain must be opened UP because it is stopped UP.
We open UP a store in the morning but we close it UP at night.
We seem to be pretty mixed UP about UP!
To be knowledgeable about the proper uses of UP, look the word UP in the dictionary.
In a desk-sized dictionary, it takes UP almost 1/4th of the page and can have UP to about thirty definitions.
If you are UP to it, you might try building UP a list of the many ways UP is used.
It will take UP a lot of your time, but if you don’t give UP, you may wind UP with a hundred or more.
When it threatens to rain, we say it is clouding UP.
When the sun comes out we say it is clearing UP.
When it rains, it wets the earth and often messes things UP.
When it doesn’t rain for awhile, things dry UP.
One could go on and on, but I’ll wrap it UP, for now my time is UP, so . . . it is time to for me to shut UP!


29 thoughts on “Heteronyms and Homographs for a bit of fun:

      1. bkpyett Post author

        Just pleased to hear from you, regardless of length! I know what a busy life you lead, so please don’t feel the need to apologise! ❤


  1. simon682

    English is an endlessly fascinating, endlessly enjoyable language. Incidentally, is there a word for words whose two meanings are the very opposite of each other such as ‘cleave’? I enjoyed this post.


    1. bkpyett Post author

      I haven’t heard of another word, other than homograph, Simon. Shall be interested to hear if you find one! Thanks for your addition of cleave, an interesting one.


  2. mbarkersimpson

    Genius! I love this post 🙂 ‘fingers don’t ‘fing’ had me rolling around! But my absolute favourite…noses that run and feet that smell. English might be a crazy language, but I revel in the lunacy 😉

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Silver in the Barn

    I spent a year studying Mandarin….the perfectly inscrutable language that a billion plus people rattle off like it is nothing at all. A language with no separate word for “he” and “she.” Oy vey! What fascinates me, Barbara, is how different our English is. In America we have strong regional dialects which can label you a Virginian or a New Englander in about two words. And then there’s all you Aussies with your unique spin on the language….which I rather adore!

    Liked by 2 people

    1. bkpyett Post author

      You may be surprised to know, Australians can often tell which state other Australians live in too, by different words being used. A ‘bingle’ in Victoria is a road accident, whereas in Tasmania it is a ‘crash’. Little idiosyncrasies are very telling. I am impressed with you learning Mandarin Barbara, and to learn there is no gender difference. That sounds very sensible. 🙂


  4. Master of Something Yet

    I am constantly grateful that I have English as a first language. What a bugger to learn. Mind you, at least we only have one ‘the’ and don’t have to remember that the dog is male but the cat is female even if the dog is a girl but the cat is a boy. :-/

    Liked by 1 person

    1. bkpyetts Post author

      Yes, me too H. English pronunciation is hideous even for English speakers. Learning another language helped me appreciate my own.
      You are right about gender tripping me up!


    2. bkpyett Post author

      Just thinking, just because cat is masculine in Italian, why is it feminine in French?
      Il gatto, in Italian, and la chat in French, i think… so English has its compensations!

      Liked by 1 person

  5. bkpyett Post author

    Rules are made to be broken. Am glad I didn’t have to learn English as a second language. At least as a teacher, you would have had the well behaved kids! 🙂


  6. JF

    Barbara, I noticed craziness of English even before I came to America. However, I am ready to forgive everything for just two words “making love”! It sounds quite different in Russian.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. M-R

    I remember many of these being used when I was teaching English as a 2nd language, Ba. Ours really is a ludicrous one; and I used to tell that that it DOES have rules, but that every rule is followed by “except when …” 🙂

    Liked by 1 person


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