English: What is a homonym?
As an English tutor, I’ll share a definition I learned in elementary school. I had no idea it was controversial.
I remember my spelling text from grade three – yes, it was a textbook. Each week had a new list of words. However, the book went further: it covered a new theme each week as well.
One magic chapter talked about homonyms. Homonyms, it explained, are words that sound the same but are spelled differently; dear and deer are homonyms, for example.
What was my surprise to discover, 35 years later, that the Yanks don’t necessarily agree with that definition! Leafing through Websters yesterday, I read that homonyms are spelled the same, but have different meanings. An example is screen, in the following two contexts:
1) We’ll screen the applicants carefully.
2) At the airport, you watch the screen for the arrivals.
That’s homonyms from a Yank point of view.
I wondered if maybe I remembered the definition wrong, so I checked the Oxford Canadian Dictionary. Its definition comprises both the one I remember and the Websters one.
By the way: I love the -nym ending:)
Jack of Oracle Tutoring by Jack and Diane, Campbell River, BC.