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hom·o·nym ('hä-m&-"nim, 'hO-) n. 1. One of two or more words that have the same sound and often the same spelling but differ in meaning.

hom·o·phone ('hä-m&-"fOn, 'hO-) n. 1. One of two or more words, such as night and knight, that are pronounced the same but differ in meaning, origin, and sometimes spelling.

The American Heritage Dictionary, Third Edition

The following table contains a list of words with homonyms that differ in spelling and meaning, but are identical in pronunciation. Circle the number of the one you are assigned.

  1. buy
  1. cent
  1. air
  1. dew
  1. earn
  1. flew
  1. for
  1. knead
  1. meat
  1. nay
  1. peak
  1. rain
  1. aye
  1. sew
  1. their
  1. to
  1. soar
  1. yore
  1. threw
  1. stake
  1. stationary

General Instructions

Use a web browser to go to the web site at Scroll down the page that appears until you find the word whose number you circled above. (If your browser has a find command - usually Ctrl+F, you can try using it to find your word without scrolling.) Use the words on the line you’ll find to complete the steps below. Prepare parts 1 and 2 on separate sheets of paper, each headed with your name, the class name, the due date and the assignment name. Proofread your work for legibility, conciseness, spelling, punctuation, capitalization and completeness. After I return Part 1 to you, use it to improve your work in Part 2.

Specific Instructions

Part 1

    1. Write out the name of the dictionary you are using.
    2. Write out the word whose number you circled. Include the pronunciation you found with its definition.
    3. Write out what you believe to be its most common sense (meaning). Include its number.
    4. Use the word, in the sense above, in a concise properly written sentence.
    5. What part of speech does your word play in the sentence you wrote?

Part 2

The instructions for Part 2 are the same as those for Part 1 except that you are to use one of the homonyms you found when you looked up your assigned word at

Example - Part 1

  1. Merriam-Webster Collegiate Dictionary
  2. write ('rIt)
  3. 1b : to form (as words) by inscribing the characters or symbols of on a surface
  4. I wanted to write so much that I could barely contain myself.
  5. verb

Example - Part 2

  1. Merriam-Webster Collegiate Dictionary
  2. right ('rIt)
  3. 4 : SUITABLE, APPROPRIATE <the right man for the job>
  4. I wanted to do the right thing.
  5. adjective


  1. Merriam-Webster Collegiate Dictionary
  2. rite ('rIt)
  3. 2 : a ceremonial act or action <initiation rites>
  4. Bar Mitzvah is the Jewish rite signifying the transition from boy to man.
  5. noun


  1. Merriam-Webster Collegiate Dictionary
  2. wright ('rIt)
  3. : a worker skilled in the manufacture especially of wooden objects - usually used in combination <shipwright> <wheelwright>
  4. It is difficult to find a wheelwright when you need one.
  5. noun


The World's Greatest Pun

This is so because it involves three consecutive words that change spelling without changing pronunciation.

According to an old joke, there was once a farmer who had three sons who ran a cattle ranch out west. The sons decided to name the farm "focus" because focus is where the SUN'S RAYS MEET and where the SONS RAISE MEAT.

Thanks for this to Will Shortz, New York Times Crossword Puzzle editor and Weekend Edition Puzzlemaster, who presented it as part of the Weekend Edition Sunday Puzzle Challenge on December 23, 2001.

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original web posting: Monday, October 22, 2001
last modified: Sunday, November 21, 2004