So, what exactly are homonyms? You may have heard the word on your English language learning journey but are quite not sure what it is. This page will teach you all about them including a list of the most common ones with examples. Are you ready? Then let’s begin…
Homonyms are words which have the same pronunciation but different meanings. Just so were clear, they sound the same. EXACTLY the same. ‘Homo’ means the same. ‘nym’ means name = same name.
I’ll give you an example to begin with:
- bat – a winged night mammal (n)
- bat – an object to hit a ball with (n)
- bat – your turn to hit the ball in a game (v)
As you can see, one word can have many different meanings. These words can be adverbs, adjectives, nouns, verbs and more. There are so many homonyms in English so read on to see a list of the most common ones.
Let’s take a look at a few common examples with pictures so you get the idea.
You get the idea now, they are confusing, right? Learning English can be a right pain in the backside but learning about homonyms is a fantastic way to improve.
homonyms list with examples
Homonyms are very tricky for non-natives to learn and distinguish between. Have a crack at learning some of the most common ones. I’ve given you word, the 2 or more meanings and an example sentence. If you’re feeling really brave, try making up your own sentences.
meaning – A part of the body (n).
example – My arm feels numb.
meaning – To equip with weapons (v).
example – The escaped convict is armed with a gun.
meaning – A part of the body (n).
example – Put your back into it, we need to finish today.
meaning – At the back (adj).
example – Let’s sit at the back of the bus.
meaning – In the opposite direction (adv).
example – We need to go back to the beginning.
meaning – To support (v).
example – I’ll back you up if she accuses you of cheating.
meaning – A group of musicians (n).
example – The band were great, I really enjoy their music.
meaning – Material that constricts (n).
example – Does anyone have a hairband I can borrow?
meaning – The covering of a tree (n).
example – Deer keep eating the bark on my apple trees.
meaning – A sound a dog makes (v).
example – The neighbour’s dog barks all day and night.
meaning – A winged night mammal (n).
example – I love the new batman film.
meaning – An object to hit a ball with (n).
example – Pick up a bat and practice with a partner.
meaning – Your turn to hit the ball in a game (v).
example – The blues will be batting first.
meaning – A big piece of wood used for support (n).
example – I need to paint the beams in the living room.
meaning – A ray of light (n).
example – The sun’s beams are beautiful today.
meaning – To transmit or broadcast (v).
example – The rave will be beamed live online.
meaning – A big fury mammal (n).
example – Be careful, there are grizzly bears in the woods.
meaning – Carry the weight of (v).
example – Next year the trees will be bearing fruit.
meaning – A long thin piece of material (n).
example – I’m going to buy a surfboard.
meaning – To get on a bus, plane, or train (v).
example – The boarding gates close in 10 minutes.
meaning – To ride a skateboard (v).
example – We are going boarding on Saturday.
meaning – To live at a school during term time (v).
example – I’m boarding at a private school next year.
meaning – To receive meals in exchange for pay or work (v).
example – Lodging and board is provided in exchange for 4 hours of work per day.
meaning – A metal pin (n).
example – I have a few spare bolts in the garage.
meaning – A streak of lightning (n).
example – A bolt of lightning hit my shed roof.
meaning – To fasten with a bolt (v).
example – Bolt the door on your way out.
meaning – When an animal gets scared and runs (v).
example – The horse bolted out of the field towards the motorway.
meaning – An object you read (n).
example – I’m reading a terrific book about aliens.
meaning – To reserve (v).
example – We’ve booked a Michelin starred restaurant for valentine’s day.
meaning – Ability/permission (modal).
example – Can you work on Friday night?
meaning – A metal container (n).
example – Who wants a can of coke?
meaning – An official situation, a legal action (n).
example – The court case will commence in February.
meaning – A protective container (n).
example – I need to buy a new phone case.
meaning – To surround (v).
example – The strawberries are cased in white chocolate.
meaning – Coins (n).
example – The beggar is asking for spare change.
meaning – To become different (v).
example – Mason has changed since he’s been with Katy.
meaning – A device for holding objects together (n).
example – Does anyone know where the paper clips are?
meaning – To cut (v).
example – I need to clip the hedge before spring arrives.
meaning – To fasten with clips (v).
example – The hairdresser clipped her client’s hair up so she could apply the bleach.
meaning – Low temperature (adj).
example – It’s very cool for May, roll on the summer.
meaning – Fashionable, stylish (adj).
example – Jenna is so cool; she has 500,000 followers.
meaning – To become less hot (v).
example – Let’s go to the lake, the dogs need to cool down.
meaning – A room where trials take place (n).
example – I’m due in court for a driving offence.
meaning – The area where tennis/badminton is played (n).
example – The court needs resurfacing, it’s impossible to play on it.
meaning – To date (v).
example – My son has been courting Lizzy for 3 years, do I hear wedding bells?
meaning – Present time (adj).
example – My current boyfriend is a real sweetheart.
meaning – A flow of electricity (n).
example – By completing the circuit, the current will flow.
meaning – A specific day of the month (n).
example – What date is St Patrick’s day?
meaning – A romantic meeting (n).
example – I’ve got a date with the hot guy from the bar.
meaning – A relationship with the same person (v).
example – We’ve been dating for almost a year.
meaning – Beneath (adv).
example – Put your books down and listen to my instructions.
meaning – Soft feathers (n).
example – My new duvet is made from eiderdown.
meaning – A drip of liquid (n).
example – Let’s open another bottle, there’s only a drop left.
meaning – To accidentally let something fall (v).
example – Oh no! I’ve dropped my phone down the drain.
meaning – A water bird (n).
example – I think I’ll order the crispy duck.
meaning – To lower the head or body quickly (v).
example – Duck down Chris or you’ll bang your head.
meaning – Equal (adj).
example – It was a fair fight.
meaning – To have light skin and hair (adj).
example – I’m fair but my twin brother is dark.
meaning – A fete/gala (n).
example – I want to win a goldfish at the fair.
meaning – Autumn in American English (n).
example – Fall is my favourite season.
meaning – Accidentally move from a higher to a lower level (v).
example – My stilettos are high, I hope I don’t fall over.
meaning – A collection of papers/information (n).
example – Mr Richard’s file is on my desk.
meaning – To order papers/documents (v).
example – We’ve hired a secretary to help file the documents.
meaning – A level surface (adj).
example – Park over there on the flat bit.
meaning – An apartment (n).
example – We’re downsizing to a flat now we’re getting old.
meaning – No air in a tyre (n).
example – I got a flat tyre on the motorway yesterday; it was a scary experience.
meaning – An insect (n).
example – Has something died? There are so many flies in here.
meaning – To glide through the air (v).
example – We’re flying at 5:35 so we need to leave here by 2.
meaning – The lower part of the leg (n).
example – My foot hurts, I fell down the stairs earlier.
meaning – A unit of measurement (n).
example – Can you move your car back a foot or so?
meaning – Lenses to help you see better (n).
example – I’ve lost my glasses; I can’t see a thing without them.
meaning – Glass containers to drink from (n).
example – Let’s use the posh glasses we got for our anniversary.
meaning – The surface of the earth (n).
example – The ground is too hard to dig at the moment.
meaning – To stop flying or children going out (v).
example – Mum will ground me if I’m back after 10pm.
meaning – Pellets of frozen rain (n, v).
example – The hail stones were huge, one smashed my windscreen.
meaning – To praise/worship (v).
example – All hail the king.
meaning – A metal (n).
example – A maniac is running around outside with an iron bar.
meaning – To straighten clean clothes (v).
example – I need to iron my shirt for the school prom.
meaning – A fruity preserve (n).
example – I love jam sandwiches.
meaning – To become stuck (v).
example – I’m stuck in a traffic jam; a lorry has jack-knifed.
meaning – Nice, polite, generous (adj).
example – Melanie is so kind, she paid for my shopping.
meaning – A type (n).
example – What kind of dog do you have?
meaning – A character of the alphabet (n).
example – There are 26 letters in the alphabet.
meaning – A written or typed communication (n).
example – Tom is writing his letter to Santa.
meaning – A stick used to make fire (n).
example – Children shouldn’t play with matches.
meaning – A game/contest (n).
example – The match has been postponed until next week.
meaning – To compliment (v).
example – We need purple walls to match the carpet.
meaning – A metal fastener (n).
example – I need to buy some nails to hang up the photos.
meaning – A hard covering on fingers and toes (n).
example – I’m getting my nails done later.
meaning – Fasten objects using nails (v).
example – Can you nail the birdbox to the fence?
meaning – To catch a criminal (v).
example – PC Phillips has nailed the case. Johnson did it!
meaning – A type of tree (n).
example – Let’s go somewhere exotic with palm trees.
meaning – The inner surface of your hand (n).
example – I’ve got a palm reading this weekend.
meaning – A play area for kids (n).
example – The kids need some fresh air, I’ll take them to the park.
meaning – To make your vehicle stationary (v).
example – I’ll park on Eastville, it’s free for 2 hours.
meaning – The sharp end of an object (n).
example – The point of the dart needs to hit the target.
meaning – Extend your finger towards (v).
example – Can you point out the boy who stole your pens?
meaning – A bowl of cocktail (n).
example – I’ve made a Hawaiian punch for the barbeque.
meaning – To hit somebody with your fist (v).
example – Lenny was punched in the face twice last night.
meaning – A place far from civilization (adj).
example – I’d love to live on a remote island.
meaning – A control (n).
example – Pass me the remote, football is starting.
meaning – Correct (adj).
example – Mum is always right; you should listen to her.
meaning – The opposite of left (adj).
example – Turn right at the end of the street.
meaning – A legal entitlement (n).
example – You have no right to stop me seeing my son.
meaning – A band worn around your fingers (n).
example – I saw Mark buying an engagement ring.
meaning – A circular shaped object (n).
example – Can I take my rubber ring to the pool?
meaning – Put a circle around something (v).
example – Ring all the adjectives on the page.
meaning – Call someone on the phone (v).
example – Can you ring grandma and wish her a happy birthday?
meaning – A type of music (adj).
example – We’re off to a rock concert tonight.
meaning – A solid object found in the ground (n).
example – Rocks are falling off the cliffs. Be careful!
meaning – Move from side to side (v).
example – If you rock the baby, she’ll fall asleep.
meaning – A flower (n).
example – I got a dozen red roses for my birthday.
meaning – Past simple of `rise` (v).
example – The crowd rose to their feet and applauded the team.
meaning – A leader who governs others (n).
example – He was the ruler of the country for 40 years.
meaning – A stick of measurement (n).
example – Take your rulers and cut your ribbon into 10cm lengths.
meaning – A tool for cutting wood or metal (n).
example – I need a bigger saw to cut the beams.
meaning – The past simple of `see` (v).
example – We saw a ghost last night.
meaning – The hard plates on the skin of a fish (n).
example – Remove the scales before you fry the fish.
meaning – A tool for weighing (n).
example – Use the scales to weigh the flour, don’t just guess.
meaning – Climb up or over something (v).
example – The crook scaled the wall to escape from the police.
meaning – An indication (n).
example – It’s thundering, I think it’s a sign we shouldn’t go into the forest.
meaning – A board giving detail (n).
example – The sign says they are closed today.
meaning – To write one`s name (v).
example – Sign your name in the box at the bottom.
meaning – A large boat (n).
example – Our cruise ship is massive, it has 3 pools.
meaning – To transport goods/people on a ship (v).
example – The cost to ship the car is £950.
meaning – The basin with a tap in the bathroom (n).
example – Your toothbrush is in the cup by the sink.
meaning – To go below the surface (v).
example – You wear a lifejacket to stop you sinking.
meaning – A season (n).
example – Spring is just around the corner.
meaning – To move suddenly (v).
example – The cheetah sprang up and chased the hare.
meaning – Cord used for fastening (n).
example – I have a black-tie ball tonight.
meaning – A draw in sport (n).
example – The scores are tied with 3 minutes to go.
meaning – To fasten using string/cord (v).
example – Tie your shoelaces or you’ll trip over.
meaning – A day out/holiday for pleasure (n).
example – Give Cleo £10 for the school trip please.
meaning – To stumble/fall (v).
example – I tripped over my skirt and fractured my shoulder.
meaning – The main body of a tree (n).
example – That tree trunk is huge, it must be 100 years old.
meaning – The long nose of an elephant (n).
example – The baby elephant got his trunk caught in a tree.
meaning – The back storage area of a car (n).
example – You can put all your luggage in the trunk.
meaning – A thing you wear to tell the time (n).
example – My watch is 5 minutes slow.
meaning – To look at with concentration (v).
example – Watch closely and you’ll see the tadpoles moving.
meaning – Movement in the ocean (n).
example – The waves are huge today, I don’t think I’ll surf.
meaning – To gesture hello or goodbye using your hands (v).
example – My little brother loves waving at trains.
meaning – In good health (adj).
example – I don’t feel well today.
meaning – In a satisfactory way (adv).
example – The whole class scored well on the test.
meaning – To express emotion (exclamation).
example – Well, he has shown his true colours!
meaning – An underground source of water (n).
example – The well is dry, we’ve had no rain for months.
meaning – Liquid rising and spilling (v).
example – Her eyes welled up with tears after getting her results.
Here’s a PDF list you can download and read at your leisure..
If you enjoyed this page and found it easy, it’s time to increase the difficulty. Homographs and homophones are the next step for you. Click the links below to find out what they are and really test your pronunciation skills.