Homonyms with Harmony, Part 3–The Origins of Homonyms

Image by Gerd Altmann from Pixabay 

Hi SErs! It’s a day of Harmony here at Story Empire 🙂 As discussed in Homonyms with Harmony Part 1–Introduction, homonyms are words spelt or pronounced the same but which have different meanings. As we all know, homonyms often cause confusion and misunderstandings. Oh, joy! 😊 Today, we’ll take a look at the Origins of Homonyms …

So, how did these words come to be?

The origins of homonyms go all the way back to the development of speech and words and to the borrowing of expressions from various languages. Today, we’ll take a look at the ways in which homonyms are used in different language groups, as well as the importance of homonyms in communication, and how they help to make our writing more precise and efficient.

Because homonyms have been around since the dawn of worded speech, we humans have used them in many different languages and cultures. The ancient Greeks, for example, used them, as did the Romans. Most languages, including English, employ homonyms. We can use such words to add humour and wit to our writing, as well as to distinguish different meanings. Here, I might refer back to the usage of ‘fanny’ we mentioned in our last post, Homonyms with Harmony, Part 2–American and British English Conventions … or, we could skip right past that bit of warped humour and look at another one I used for my Interludes books, where I deliberately misspelt ‘whet’ and used ‘wet’ for a fun pun and play on words in the slightly risqué tagline: A collection of short erotic fiction that will tickle more than your taste buds and wet [sic] more than your appetite. (Booklinker has stopped working, so instead of a universal link, here are the US and UK links in case it still isn’t working when you click on it. Sorry. I’ll do my best to find an alternative and change links on all my books as soon as I’m able.)

Modern Usage of Homonyms:

We use homonyms in everyday speech and writing as well as in many idioms and expressions. For example, the phrase ‘to take a different ‘tack’ is a homonym, as ‘tack’ can mean both the direction of a sailing boat and the act of attaching something.

Writers use homonyms in both literature and poetry. Sometimes, as seen above, we employ homonyms to create wordplay and double entendres. Poets use such words to create clever rhymes and add depth and meaning.

In Summary:

The word Homonym is an umbrella term which encompasses a wide range of words with the same spellings or pronunciations but which hold different meanings. Homonyms have existed for centuries and form an integral part of our language. We can use them to add humour and wit to our writing, as well as to distinguish various meanings.

Cautionary Note:

Homonyms often prove a source of confusion for many of us. So, while these words have existed since ancient times and have given us a plethora of words and meanings which enrich our language and give us more ways to express ourselves, we need to exercise caution when using them.

Happily, homonyms are also a great tool for writers, poets, and speakers to convey their messages creatively and uniquely. With that said, in our next set of posts, we’ll jump right on in and take a look at many commonly misused words.

That’s it from me today. I hope you’ve found this post useful, and I’ll see you again on Wednesday 21st June for Homonyms with Harmony, Part 4–Commonly Misused ‘A’ Words … You can see where this is going! 😊

Bio Box for Harmony Kent that links to her website www.harmonykent.co.uk

Homonyms with Harmony: Part 1–Introduction

Homonyms with Harmony: Part 2–American and British English Conventions

©2023 Harmony Kent

67 thoughts on “Homonyms with Harmony, Part 3–The Origins of Homonyms

  1. Pingback: Does a Character’s Past Weigh Them Down? by Traci Kenworth – Where Genres Collide Traci Kenworth YA Author

  2. Years ago I was taught that homonyms were words with the same sounds but different spellings. It’s great to see the fuller and more accurate description here. ANother great series, Harmony! ♥♥

    Liked by 1 person

    • Homonyms can have the same or differing spellings yet sound the same, which is where most confusion occurs. We have three terms for what amounts to pretty much the same things (see post one), which is why I use Homonyms as a post header here as an umbrella term so we can look at more ‘culprit’ words, lols. I’ve lost count of the amount of things my teachers misrepresented when I was in school. I’m so pleased you’re enjoying this series. Thanks, Trish 💕🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  3. I get tripped up more often by other things in English than homonyms, but it’s easy to accidentally write the wrong word when typing fast. Grammar checkers don’t always catch them, either.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. These words can cause a lot of confusion, as your post points out, Harmony. When helping my grandchildren study their spelling words, I often have to use the word in a sentence for them know which spelling is correct. I can’t say I’ve ever intentionally used a homonym for the effect, but love your example. Thanks for sharing!

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Another terrific post, Harmony. I have not used Homonyms on purpose for effect. I think it would be worth a try. My only fear is that someone would think it was a typo. I guess the laugh would be on thems if they did so maybe it is worth a try. Thanks.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. I wrote a few book reviews yesterday, and I proofed them several times. Just before publishing, I saw the line, “He wants to do what’s write.” As a writer and editor, I use the word “write” so much, I just ignore it now. I’m guessing plenty of people would have laughed if I hadn’t changed it to “right” before publishing. Unfortunately, I hadn’t done it on purpose, so it would have been laughing AT me instead of WITH me. I tip my hat to those writers who use them intentionally (and land them). Nice look at their history, Harmony.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Very helpful post, Harmony. You’re right about homonyms being confusing — even spellcheck is befuddled at times. I’m learning a lot through your series. 😊

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Pingback: Homonyms with Harmony, Part 3–The Origins of Homonyms | Legends of Windemere

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