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A homograph (from the Greek: ὁμός, homós, "same" and γράφω, gráphō, "write") is a word or a group of words that share the same written form but have different meanings. When spoken, the meanings may be distinguished by different pronunciations (in which case the words are also heteronyms) or they may not (in which case the words are also both homophones and homonyms according to the definition of homonyms as words with the same writing and pronunciation; however, in a looser sense the term "homonym" may be applied to words with the same writing or pronunciation, in which case all homographs are also homonyms). Homograph disambiguation is critically important in speech synthesis, natural language processing and other fields. Identically-written different senses of what is judged to be fundamentally the same word are called polysemes; for example, wood (substance) and wood (area covered with trees).


In English


In (1) the words are identical in spelling and pronunciation (i.e. they are also homophones), but differ in meaning and grammatical function.

(2) is an example of two words spelt identically but pronounced differently. Here confusion is not possible in spoken language but can occasionally occur in written language.

More examples

In Chinese

Many Chinese varieties have homographs, called 多音字 (pinyin: duōyīnzì) or 重形字 (pinyin: chóngxíngzì).

Old Chinese

Modern study of Old Chinese has found patterns that suggest a system of affixes.[1] One pattern is the addition of the prefix /*ɦ/, which turns transitive verbs into intransitive or passives in some cases[2]:

Another pattern is the use of a /*s/ suffix, which seems to create nouns from verbs or verbs from nouns[2]:

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