Words With Multiple Meanings (2022)

A wealth of words with multiple meanings exist in the English language. Technically, almost every word has multiple meanings. How often do you look up a word in the dictionary and find only one meaning listed next to it? Practically never! It’s common for words to have slightly varying meanings, but the meanings of homonyms and homographs differ in substantive ways.

Words With Multiple Meanings (1) homonym example crane

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Homonym Examples

Homonyms are words that have the same spelling and pronunciation, but different meanings. It's tricky when words sound the same but can mean different things. This is where context clues come into play. Even though one word can morph into multiple meanings, the rest of the sentence should give you an idea of what's being discussed. There are many examples of homonyms.

  • arm
    I have an ant bite on my arm.
    It’s important to arm yourself with a solid education.
  • bark
    I hope her dog doesn’t bark when I knock on the door.
    The tree bark is rough to the touch.
    I love eating pretzels covered with almond bark.
  • clip
    I enjoyed watching a clip from that video.
    My mom is going to clip my hair.
    The boat is moving at a fairly fast clip.
  • crane
    That bird is a crane.
    They had to use a crane to lift the object.
    She had to crane her neck to see the movie.
  • date
    Her favorite fruit to eat is a date.
    Joe took Alexandria out on a date.
    Not to date myself, but I remember listening to radio shows as a kid.
    What is your date of birth?
  • dough
    I will make a batch of cookie dough.
    After I get paid, I’ll have enough dough to go to the arcade.
  • drop
    I hope I don’t drop my books.
    I enjoyed every last drop of my milkshake.
  • engaged
    They got engaged on March 7th.
    The students were very engaged in the presentation.
  • fall
    I love cool, crisp fall weather.
    Don’t fall on your way to the gym.
  • foil
    Please wrap the sandwich in aluminum foil.
    They learned about the role of a dramatic foil in English class.
  • feet
    My feet hurt.
    The desks are how many feet long?
  • leaves
    The children love to play in the leaves.
    They do not like when their father leaves for work.
  • left
    She left her book in her locker last night.
    My left foot really hurts.
  • letter
    My boyfriend earned a letter in track.
    I received a letter from my summer camp roommate.
    I can’t wait to see what letter grade I get in English.
  • net
    What was your net gain for the year?
    Crabbing is easier if you bring a net.
  • park
    I don’t know how to parallel park.
    I’m taking my dog for a walk at the park.
  • point
    The pencil has a sharp point.
    It is not polite to point at people.
  • right
    You were right.
    Make a right turn at the light.
    Access to clean water is a basic human right.
  • peer
    The article was published in a peer reviewed journal.
    I really want to peer inside the bag she is carrying.
  • rose
    My favorite flower is a rose.
    He quickly rose from his seat.
  • scale
    What is the scale on that map?
    I dread seeing the number on the bathroom scale.
  • ship
    I need to ship this package.
    I am a little nervous about traveling on a ship.
  • sink
    The bathroom sink is clogged.
    I felt my heart sink when Susie announced that she is moving away.
  • tie
    The game ended in a tie.
    I need to tie my hair back.
    I hate wearing a tie when I have to get dressed up.
  • train
    He is taking a class to train for a new job.
    She took a cross-country trip on a train.
  • type
    He can type over 100 words per minute.
    That guy is really not her type.
  • watch
    Please watch your little sister.
    I need a new watch battery.
  • wave
    I will wave when I see you in the parade.
    Will there be another wave of illness in the spring?
    I dream of surfing the perfect wave.
(Video) Words with Multiple Meanings

Homograph Examples

Homographs are words that are spelled the same, but have different pronunciations and meanings. As far as speech, this makes homographs easy to distinguish. However, when reading, it’s necessary to rely on context clues. There are many examples of homographs.

  • bass
    They caught a bass on their fishing trip.
    His voice belongs in the bass section.
  • bow
    She put a bow in her daughter's hair.
    Please bow down to the emperor.
  • does
    He does his homework every night.
    There were many bucks and does in the forest.
  • learned
    The class learned that information last week.
    He is a very learned individual.
  • minute
    That is only a minute problem.
    Wait a minute!
  • read
    She is going to read the book later.
    He read the book last night.
  • sewer
    The rats crept through the sewer.
    She is a fine sewer and fixed my torn dress.
  • sow
    A sow is a female pig.
    We'll sow the seeds in springtime.
  • wind
    The wind swept up the leaves.
    Wind the clock up before you go to bed.
  • wound
    They wound up the toy as soon as they got it.
    She received a wound from the punch.

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Homophone Examples

While not exactly the same as words that have more than one meaning, homophones are closely related to homonyms and homographs. Homophones are words that are pronounced the same, but have different spellings and meanings. These words sound the same in speech, but their spellings and meanings are different. There are many examples of homophones.

  • alter/altar
    How did you alter your identity?
    Let's go worship the Lord at the altar.
  • ate/eight
    Together, we ate three large pizza pies.
    There were eight of us in total.
  • band/banned
    Let's go watch my favorite band perform at the theatre.
    We banned together in support of her new music.
  • blew/blue
    Caleb blew out his birthday candles.
    I can't believe he bought blue suede shoes.
  • boar/bore
    They had to hunt boar to survive on the deserted island.
    Please do not bore me.
  • buy/bye/by
    Why did she buy a $1,400 purse?
    I wish we didn't have to say bye.
    Don't let life pass you by.
  • canon/cannon
    The canon law of the Catholic church offers rules to live by.
    Let's go look at the old cannon at Fort Henry.
  • coarse/course
    The horse had a coarse mane.
    She teaches a really difficult course.
  • fair/fare
    Even though her course is tough, she's a fair professor.
    Do you have our bus fare?
    Wow, he isn't going to fare well in Congress.
  • foul/fowl
    This tea gives off a really foul smell.
    Did you know ducks are a type of fowl?
  • genes/jeans
    They have the same Scottish genes.
    I'd like to buy a pair of dark wash jeans.
  • grate/great
    Her heel got stuck in a New York City grate.
    Will you grate the cheese while I chop the garlic?
    Your fettucini alfredo was great.
  • hour/our
    She teaches a two-hour seminar.
    This is our third trip to Japan.
  • in/inn
    I can't believe she stepped in wet cement.
    Would you like a room at the inn?
  • knight/night
    The queen's former knight haunts the castle.
    I don't want to spend another night at this castle.
  • maize/maze
    She makes her tacos out of maize from Peru.
    This airport is such a maze, I'm not sure we're going to make our flight.
  • meddle/metal/medal
    I wish she wouldn't meddle in my affairs.
    Her incense holder is made of metal.
    She was so proud to win the spelling bee medal.
  • no/know
    There are no more shoes left.
    I don't know where they all went.
  • nose/knows
    Yesterday, she got her nose pierced.
    She knows her parents won't approve.
  • pale/pail
    She has pale skin and freckles.
    He poured paint in the pail.
  • rain/reign/rein
    Don't you love falling asleep to the sound of rain?
    We can't wait to see Will and Kate's reign.
    Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer needs a new rein.
  • red/read
    Can I borrow your red lipstick?
    I already read last night's homework assignment.
  • role/roll
    Are you ready to start your new role at the company?
    You have to roll the dough to make a croissant.
  • sea/see
    She moved from the sea to Tennessee.
    Did you see how fast Penny can run?
  • their/there/they're
    We love their new house.
    I asked you to sit over there.
    They're going on a trip to Italy.
  • veil/vale
    Did you see Prince Harry lift Meghan's veil?
    I'd love to live in a cabin in the Vale of Heignesh.
(Video) 15 English Words with Multiple Meanings

Shifty Shapeshifters

When it comes to words with multiple meanings, it's wise to read and re-read those sentences. The wrong context or form can change the meaning significantly. It doesn't matter what medium you're writing in. Words with multiple meanings creep up all the time. If you're working on an essay for school, improve your essay writing skills. If you're more focused on short fiction, explore how to write a short story. Either way, make sure you choose the correct words to accurately convey your meaning.

Mary Gormandy White

Staff Writer

(Video) Multiple Meaning Words

  • 3rd grade
  • 4th grade
  • 5th grade
  • 6th grade
  • 7th grade
  • 8th grade
  • 9th grade
  • 10th grade
  • 11th grade
  • 12th grade
  • elementary school
  • middle school
  • high school

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FAQs

What word can have multiple meanings? ›

When a word or phrase has several meanings, you can describe that word as polysemous. One word that's famously polysemous is "bank." You can choose a pronunciation for this adjective with stress on the second or third syllable since most dictionaries give both.

What are 10 multiple meaning words? ›

10 English Words with More than One Meaning
  • Mine.
  • Interest.
  • Date.
  • Engage.
  • Leave.
  • Novel.
  • Park.
  • Play.

What are 20 examples of homonyms? ›

Homonyms, Homophones, and Homographs
accept - take inexcept - other than
real - factualreel - roll
right - correct; not leftwrite - scribble
ring - encirclewring - squeeze
road - streetrode - past tense of ride
142 more rows
16 Jul 2019

What word has the most multiple meanings? ›

The word with the most meanings in English is the verb 'set', with 430 senses listed in the Second Edition of the Oxford English Dictionary, published in 1989.

When something has more than one meaning? ›

Definition of ambiguous

adjective. open to or having several possible meanings or interpretations; equivocal: an ambiguous answer. Linguistics. (of an expression) exhibiting constructional homonymity; having two or more structural descriptions, as the sequence Flying planes can be dangerous.

What is a word with three different meanings? ›

multinyms are examples of triple/quadruple/quintuple/sextuple homonyms. According to some definitions, a homonym is a word with the same pronunciation as, but different meaning than, another word. Thus, homonyms come in pairs (at least). However, some remarkable homonyms come in triples, as you may here behold.

What words have more than 1 meaning? ›

Homonyms, or multiple–meaning words, are words that have the same spelling and usually sound alike but have different meanings (e.g. Bark– dog bark, tree bark).

What 3 letter word has the most meanings? ›

So Far One three-letter word does much of the heavy lifting in the English language. The little word "run" — in its verb form alone — has 645 distinct meanings.

What is a word for double meaning? ›

A double entendre (plural double entendres) is a figure of speech or a particular way of wording that is devised to have a double meaning, of which one is typically obvious, whereas the other often conveys a message that would be too socially awkward, sexually suggestive, or offensive to state directly.

What are the 100 examples of homonyms? ›

Homonym Words List
Arm
“The company arm of the separatist group”I can't hold the baby on my arm
Band
The band of musicians is lazy.He wears a small band on his head.
Book
71 more rows

What word has 3 sets of consecutive letters? ›

An old riddle asks, “Can you name a word with three consecutive double letters?” One possible answer is WOOLLEN - 'double U, double O, double L, …' A more satisfying solution is BOOKKEEPER (or BOOKKEEPING), the only common words with a consecutive triple double.

What is the most complex word? ›

7 most difficult English words that will let you forget what you wanted to say
  • Rural. ...
  • Sixth. ...
  • Sesquipedalian. ...
  • Phenomenon. ...
  • Onomatopoeia. ...
  • Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious. ...
  • Worcestershire.

What are homonyms give 2 examples? ›

Homonyms may be words with identical pronunciations but different spellings and meanings, such as to, too, and two. Or they may be words with both identical pronunciations and identical spellings but different meanings, such as quail (the bird) and quail (to cringe).

What are some ambiguous words? ›

The English language has many words that are ambiguous as they can have more than dozens of meanings. Some examples are: cut, take, have, make, and skim.

What's another word for ambiguous? ›

Some common synonyms of ambiguous are cryptic, dark, enigmatic, equivocal, obscure, and vague. While all these words mean "not clearly understandable," ambiguous applies to language capable of more than one interpretation.

What is an example of ambiguous? ›

"We saw her duck is a paraphrase of We saw her lower her head and of We saw the duck belonging to her, and these last two sentences are not paraphrases of each other. Therefore We saw her duck is ambiguous."

Is there a word with 4 homophones? ›

medal, meddle, metal, mettle- Probably the best example, doesn't need any pluralization and these are all reasonably common words. right, rite, wright, write- Good except "wright" which is not too common, although derivatives like "shipwright" make sense.

What is a triple homophone? ›

Words that sound the same, but are spelled differently are called homonyms or homophones - the latter seems more appropriate. The best known triple homophone is: to, too, two.

What are the 25 examples of homographs? ›

Homograph Examples
  • agape – with mouth open OR love.
  • bass – type of fish OR low, deep voice.
  • bat - piece of sports equipment OR an animal.
  • bow – type of knot OR to incline.
  • down – a lower place OR soft fluff on a bird.
  • entrance – the way in OR to delight.
  • evening – smoothing out OR after sunset.
  • fine – of good quality OR a levy.

Why does right have 2 meanings? ›

Show activity on this post. The second meaning (direction) of right, as noted in the OED definition, comes from the fact that the good hand or the correct hand was usually the right hand. The corresponding terms for left are gauche and sinister.

What's the English word with the most meanings? ›

According to Guinness World Records, the word that has the most meanings in the English language is the verb “set.” “Set” has 430 senses listed in the second edition of the Oxford English Dictionary, which was published in 1989.

What is the hardest 3 letter word? ›

The hardest three-letter hangman words. “Sly” is particularly… well, sly. Running the program, we can see that the hardest three-letter word is “xxv”, which would take 22 guesses (20 of them wrong!) to get. But aside from the roman numeral for 25, I don't think that “xxv” is actually a word.

What is the most complicated 3 letter word? ›

You might think it's absurd (and maybe it is), but Oxford English Dictionary editors recently revealed that “run” has indeed become the single word with the most potential meanings in all of English, boasting no fewer than 645 different usage cases for the verb form alone.

What are same words with different meanings? ›

Homonyms are words which sound alike or are spelled alike but have different meanings. In a strict sense, a homonym is a word that both sounds and is spelled the same as another word. Think of the word “lie” which can mean “not true” or “horizontal or resting position.” They are written and pronounced the same.

What does Equivocality mean? ›

/ɪˈkwɪv.ə.kəl.i/ us. /ɪˈkwɪv.ə.kəl.i/ in a way that is not clear and seems to have two opposing meanings, or that is confusing and able to be understood in two different ways: The new biography was received equivocally.

What is it called when something has a hidden meaning? ›

Allegory. 1. a poem, play, picture, etc, in which the apparent meaning of the characters and events is used to symbolize a deeper moral or spiritual meaning 2. the technique or genre that this represents 3.

What are the 20 examples of homophones with sentences? ›

Homophones List
List of Homophones
Homophone Words & SentencesHomophone Words & Sentences
Ate – The ape ate all the applesEight – We will meet after the office at eight
Bald – He is planning to go bald (hairless)Bawled – She began to bawl (cry) like a child
29 more rows

Can you give me a list of homophones? ›

Homophones List - Advanced
  • ail / ale.
  • airs / heirs.
  • aisle / I'll.
  • ascent / assent.
  • aural / oral.
  • auricle / oracle.
  • berth / birth.
  • boy / buoy.

What are homonyms of ATE? ›

Answer and Explanation: A homonym for ''ate'' is ''eight''. While these words sound exactly the same, one is the past tense of ''eat'' and the other is a number. However, this is a great example of how homophones tend to find themselves into puns, which are very popular in English-speaking countries.

What is the homophone of hot? ›

The word hot has no homonyms. However, if you were to use the word "hottie" or "hotty", its homonym would be "haughty".

Is one and won a homophone? ›

One and won are homophones, words which are pronounced the same but are spelled differently and have different definitions.

What are the 50 compound words? ›

Practice with these 150 examples of compound words:
  • Airplane.
  • Airport.
  • Angelfish.
  • Antfarm.
  • Ballpark.
  • Beachball.
  • Bikerack.
  • Billboard.

What homonym has the most meanings? ›

Run: 645 definitions

Though there is some debate surrounding the first place position of "run," as one of the top homographs it has (an anticipated) 645 different definitions, according to a New York Times article from 2011.

What are the 20 pairs of homophones? ›

20 Homophones Examples for Writers
  • Baring vs. bearing. Baring means "to bare," while bearing means "to bear."
  • Bolder vs. boulder. Bolder is more bold, and boulder is more rock.
  • Canon vs. cannon. ...
  • Cite vs. sight vs. ...
  • Creak vs. creek. ...
  • Hole vs. whole. ...
  • Incite vs. insight. ...
  • It's vs. its.
11 Sept 2021

What's another word for double meaning? ›

innuendo. pun. ambiguity. amphiboly.

What is it called when a word has a double meaning? ›

A double entendre (plural double entendres) is a figure of speech or a particular way of wording that is devised to have a double meaning, of which one is typically obvious, whereas the other often conveys a message that would be too socially awkward, sexually suggestive, or offensive to state directly.

What are same words with different meanings? ›

Homonyms are words which sound alike or are spelled alike but have different meanings. In a strict sense, a homonym is a word that both sounds and is spelled the same as another word. Think of the word “lie” which can mean “not true” or “horizontal or resting position.” They are written and pronounced the same.

When a word has a double meaning? ›

Noun. double meaning (plural double meanings) The situation in which a word or phrase has two different, often opposite, meanings. For example, wicked can mean both "good" and "bad". A deliberate construction that plays on two separate meanings of a word or words; a pun.

What's another word for ambiguous? ›

Some common synonyms of ambiguous are cryptic, dark, enigmatic, equivocal, obscure, and vague. While all these words mean "not clearly understandable," ambiguous applies to language capable of more than one interpretation.

What are examples of homonyms? ›

Homonyms may be words with identical pronunciations but different spellings and meanings, such as to, too, and two. Or they may be words with both identical pronunciations and identical spellings but different meanings, such as quail (the bird) and quail (to cringe).

What is it called when something has a hidden meaning? ›

Allegory. 1. a poem, play, picture, etc, in which the apparent meaning of the characters and events is used to symbolize a deeper moral or spiritual meaning 2. the technique or genre that this represents 3.

What is a double metaphor? ›

A double metaphor is implicit and uses the comparison between two or more things to comment on something else that is unrelated, and often more intangible.

What does Polysemantic mean? ›

Definitions of polysemantic. adjective. of words; having many meanings. synonyms: polysemous ambiguous. having more than one possible meaning.

What are polysemy and examples? ›

When a symbol, word, or phrase means many different things, that's called polysemy. The verb "get" is a good example of polysemy — it can mean "procure," "become," or "understand."

Are multiple meaning words homophones? ›

Multiple meaning words or homophones are words with more than one meaning. For example: The teacher gave me a check mark on my paper.

What are the 25 examples of homophones? ›

Homophones are words that sound the ame, but have different spellings.
...
25 Common English Homophones
  • ate, eight. ...
  • bare, bear. ...
  • buy, by, bye. ...
  • cell, sell. ...
  • dew, do, due. ...
  • eye, I. ...
  • fairy, ferry. ...
  • flour, flower.

What are Polysemic words? ›

A polysemous word is a word that has different meanings that derive from a common origin; a homograph is a word that has different meanings with unrelated origins.

Does Live have two meanings? ›

Live can be used as a verb to mean "to be alive." When it's used as a verb, it is pronounced with a short "i" sound. Live can also be used as an adject to mean "alive, living." When it's used as an adjective, it is pronounced with a long "i" sound (rhymes with "hive."

How do you say Entendre? ›

How to Pronounce Entendre - YouTube

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