In the previous edition of ‘Vocabulary Matters’ we discussed homophones - words that sound the same but are spelled differently and have different meanings as well. This edition of ‘Vocabulary Matters’ will give you more insights into homographs - words that are spelled the same, but have different meanings.

Take a look at the following homographs to get a better understanding.

1. Close

Meaning 1: Being near in space or time
Example: Sneha was so close to achieving her career goals.

Meaning 2: Seal up, shut off
Example: The shop closes at 10 PM so hurry up!

2. Bat

Meaning 1: A flying nocturnal mammal
Example: Most people find it weird but I have a pet bat.

Meaning 2: An implement with a handle and a solid surface, typically of wood, used for hitting the ball in games such as cricket, baseball, and table tennis.
Example: My dad got me a new bat; I expect to hit a lot more sixes now!

3. Bow

Meaning 1: A weapon for shooting arrows, typically made of a curved piece of wood joined at both ends by a taut string.
Example: The weapons of the stone age man were the bow and arrow and stones.

Meaning 2: To incline the body or head or bend the knee in greeting, consent, courtesy, acknowledgment, submission, or veneration.
Example: The warrior offered a low bow to his master before hurrying away.

4. Fly

Meaning 1: To move in or pass through the air with wings
Example: Flightless birds are birds which cannot fly. They rely on their ability to run or swim, and have evolved from their flying ancestors.

Meaning 2: : To fade and disappear
Example: As the rays of the morning sun hit the mist, it appeared to fly away.

5. Pupil

Meaning 1: A student
Example: The next day, every pupil except one had written a composition.

Meaning 2: The contractile aperture in the iris of the eye
Example: My pupils get dilated when I take my blood pressure medicines.

6. Compound

Meaning 1: To put together (parts) so as to form a whole
Example: The thick sauce compounded from chilies, garlic, and ginger smelled heavenly.

Meaning 2: A distinct substance formed by the chemical union of two or more ingredients in definite proportion by weight
Example: A new antibiotic compound for the COVID vaccine has been developed, much to the happiness of the country.

7. Desert

Meaning 1: Desert is a dry, hot, sandy, usually barren and uninhabited area
Example: The largest desert on earth is the Antarctic desert, covering the continent of Antarctica with a size of around 5.5 million square miles.

Meaning 2: To leave or abandon someone or something
Example: My partner deserted me in the middle of the game and I lost.

8. Fine

Meaning 1: Money charged to a person for doing something wrong, such as breaking the speed limit
Example: Sara got fined for speeding; it wouldn’t be the last time.

Meaning 2: Very thin or in very small pieces or drops
Example: The eruption had covered the town with a fine layer of ash.

9. Wound

Meaning 1: To injure or harm someone either physically or emotionally
Example: The knife wound took a long time to heal.

Meaning 2: An injury or hurt to a person's feelings or reputation
Example: I was deeply wounded after knowing the news of the demise of my uncle.

10. Date

Meaning 1: The day of the month or year as specified by a number
Example: What’s the date today?

Meaning 2: A social or romantic appointment or engagement
Example: I have a date with Anita today!

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Homograph awareness is crucial to show mastery of English in your communication. And, they are a great way to enhance your vocabulary. Learning one word that carries multiple meanings helps us to learn the contextual meanings of a large number of words. One of the best ways to teach homographs to children is through riddles.

For example, can you guess the answers to the following riddles?

I am what you use when it’s dark and I am also the opposite of heavy. What word am I?
(Answer: Light)

What is the front of a ship but also means to bend forward?
(Answer: bow)

Can you come up with your own homograph riddles? Send them to us!

Stay tuned to know what's next in our ‘Vocabulary Matters’ series and join our community - Because Learning Matters to get your weekly vocabulary dose!