Homonym

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Dr. Goodword
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Homonym

Postby Dr. Goodword » Fri Aug 19, 2022 4:55 pm

• homonym •


Pronunciation: hah-mê-nim • Hear it!

Part of Speech: Noun

Meaning: A word with the same sound or spelling as another word but a different meaning, as pear, pare and pair or dope (idiot) and dope (drugs).

Notes: Today's word refers to a lexical situation that is the basis of many jokes, especially puns like those in our Punny Pages and ambiguous newspaper headlines. In the headlines, "Iraqi Head Seeks Arms," we have two homonyms that are spelled identically. The man who bought his boys a ranch and called it the Focus Ranch because it was where the sons raise meat (sun's rays meet), used three homonyms spelled differently. The noun is homonymy, as the homonymy of pair and pear, and the adjectives are homonymic [hah-mê-nim-ik] or homonymous [hê-mah-nê-mês]—your choice.

In Play: Situations arise when you can use this good word itself: "Well, if he didn't say he was getting married, he used a homonym." But it is more enjoyable to think of funny ways to use homonyms, such as these real newspaper headlines: "Soviet Virgin Lands Short of Goal Again" and "British Left Waffles on Falkland Islands." Here each of the words, lands, left, and waffles, refer to two homonyms. (During the Soviet period, the Russians developed virgin lands for farming in Kazakhstan and elsewhere.)

Word History: Today's good word comes from a Latin borrowing of Greek homonymon, the neuter of homonymos "homonymous". The Greek word is a combination of homos "same" + onyma "name". The Greek word for "same" comes from a PIE ancestor, sem-/som- "together, as one", with that ablaut vowel, sometimes [o], sometimes [e]. It is the same stem that made it to English as same. In Russian it emerged as sam "self", found in words like samovar "self-boiler" from sam + var(it') "to boil". With a suffix -l, it devolved into Latin simul "at the same time", which we see in our borrowing simultaneous. We aren't quite sure why some word-initial Ss became [h] in Greek, but some did.
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Slava
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Re: Homonym

Postby Slava » Fri Aug 19, 2022 5:11 pm

I got curious and looked up the dope on dope. It turns out to have come from something that meant 'gravy,' as in the sauce. It then moved on to the liquid sludge people smoked, called opium. Drugs injected into horses leads to knowing which horse is doped in which race, so you have the dope on where to put your money.

So, my question is this, are dope and dope homonyms, or just the same word with related meanings?
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Audiendus
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Re: Homonym

Postby Audiendus » Sat Aug 20, 2022 1:09 am

So, my question is this, are dope and dope homonyms, or just the same word with related meanings?
I think they would technically be called polysemes, as they have related meanings.

Philip Hudson
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Re: Homonym

Postby Philip Hudson » Sat Aug 20, 2022 7:08 am

Here in the hinterlands of Texas we call soft drinks Sodey-wadur.
Our Appalachian cousins call it dope.
It is dark at night, but the Sun will come up and then we can see.

bbeeton
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Re: Homonym

Postby bbeeton » Sat Aug 20, 2022 11:16 am

Dope can also be the liquid painted on the fabric wings of model airplanes, and once "real" airplanes to stiffen them. Some of my cousins, after WWII, built a biplane out of wood and fabric. It was fun to watch. (I was much younger than they were, by a couple of decades.) But, sadly, I never saw it fly.

However, I maintain that words with multiple different meanings but spelled the same should be called "homographs", "written the same".

Philip Hudson
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Re: Homonym

Postby Philip Hudson » Sun Aug 21, 2022 11:05 am

The "In Play" comments for this Good Word are delightful.
It is dark at night, but the Sun will come up and then we can see.


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