English as a Second Language/list of words variety


I know the following definition for words variety
- Synonym = words that have similar meaning
- Antonym = words that have opposite meaning
and I would like to know :
- words that are spelled the same or similar = ?
- words that are commonly mistakenly used = ?

Thank you. These are actually features of a dictionary.

ANSWER: Hello Ben,

the words you're looking for are homonym, homophone and homograph.

One at a time.

Homo-nym (homo=same, onuma=name) - homonyms are words that are pronounced or spelled the same way but have a different meanings. For ex: right/write, buy/by, principle/principal,

Homo-phone (homo=same, phone=sound) homophones are words that sounds the same but have different meanings and/or spellings. For ex: flower/flour, jeans/genes, piece/peace, too/two/to

Homo-graph (homo=same, graph=to write) homographs are words that are spelled the same but have different meanings (and are pronounced differently). For ex: close (shut)/close (nearby), lead (be the one in charge)/lead (the metal), wind (gust of air)/wind (a twisted path)

When it comes to words that are commonly mistakenly used ... I'm not sure what you have in mind here (the question is a bit vague) so if you can give me more details and get back to me, I'll be happy to help you with that part of your question as well.

I hope this helps.

Looking forward to hearing from you again.


---------- FOLLOW-UP ----------

Thank you for the excellent introduction on homonym, homophone and homograph.
For "words that are commonly mistakenly used", I mean for example, stubbornness vs. perseverance.
They both show up in Synonym dictionary however they don't mean the same. One means something good, positive, but the other is complete undesirable quality.
Usually, I count on synonym dictionary to make my essay rich in words, but sometimes I use words that don't fit in there and I did not know. So I thought I could lookup words that give 'warning flags'.
Thank you!


the only term that come to mind for words that fit your description would be "false friends" but I doubt you'll find these labeled as such in dictionaries. In other words, it's difficult at times (particularly for an ESL person) to choose the best synonym just by using a dictionary.




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Amy Baker


I can answer question about grammar, spelling, syntax, idioms, reading and/or writing that pertain to English as a Second Language. I am knowledgeable about both TOEFL and IELTS.


I'm a certified ESL teacher with 12 years of experience teaching K-12 and adults.

BSc MEd TESL post grad program for k-12 TESL post grad program for adult ed

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