Confusing Words Clarified: Group H; Homonyms, Homophones, Homographs, Synonyms, Polysemes, etc. +

(lists of "H" sections that are organized into what for some people are confusing groups of words)


I don't mispell, as others mite,
But allways right each item rite;
So I emit resounding hoops
At other righter's speling bloops.
—From The Game of Words by Willard R. Espy;
Bramhall House; New York; 1972; page 124.

Your comments and suggestions are always welcome by writing to: E-mail Contact (just click it for an e-mail form) or by typing, [email protected], as the address in your e-mail heading.

If you have any problems understanding the pronunciation symbols, go to this Pronunciation Chart for clarifications.

holey, holy, holly, wholly
holey (HOH lee) (adjective)
Pertaining to something that has an opening, or openings: Nettie's socks were old and they were very holey in the toes and heals.
holy (HOH lee) (adjective)
1. Characterized as worthy of reverence: Maria was a holy woman who inspired worship and reverence from others.
2. Regarding the intensity of a situation: The children's playroom looked like a holy mess!
holly (HAHL ee) (noun)
Any of a variety of shrubs or trees distinguished by leaves that are deep green and spiny: Stanley cut the holly in the forest to use as decorations for the holidays.
wholly (HOH lee, HOHL lee) (adverb)
Entirely, completely: The report is wholly and totally inaccurate.

If a devil is completely sinful then is it possible that an angel is wholly holy?

Say, holy man, in your holey cot, are you wholly pleased with your lowly lot?

holiday, holy day
holiday (HAHL i day") (noun)
1. Vacation, a time during which an individual does not have a normal work schedule: For Rena's and Myrna's summer holiday, they are going to go to the mountains when they both are free from duties and obligations.
2. A day that is identified as a celebration for a significant event: The holiday this weekend is to celebrate the establishment of the new university.
holy day (HOH lee day") (noun)
A special day designated for the celebration of religious events or observances: The pastor suggested they designate the first day of summer as a holy day and have special church services to commemorate it.

Tomorrow they have a holiday from school because it is a holy day for many religions and churches.

home, home, hone, hone
home (HOHM) (noun)
A dwelling place together with the family or social unit that occupies it; a household: Hana made a good home for her husband and children.
home (HOHM) (verb)
To find and to move directly toward someone or something: The medical researcher is trying to home in on the cause of the disease.

Website designers and innovators often mock up multiple designs and test them quickly; then they repeat the process until they home in on the design that seems to be most popular.

hone (HOHn) (noun)
A stone, frequently of fine grain, for filing or whetting tools used for cutting: The red hone was perfect for sharpening the kitchen knives.
hone (HOHn) (verb)
To sharpen or to make intense and effective: Chad tried to hone his speaking skills by practicing every day.

As the scientists started to home in on a solution, they felt as if they had used a hone on their brains which were so tired. When they announced the solution, they cheered and then all of them went home to rest.

homeless, homeliness
homeless (HOHM lis) (adjective)
Referring to an individual who has no fixed residence or haven; no place to live: Estella volunteered at the shelter where homeless people could sleep and get food.
homeliness (HOHM lee nuhs) (noun)
Not attractive or good-looking: Trina's homeliness was a problem for her in her early years, but she was able to present a more attractive appearance in high school.

Because of Nathan's homeliness, people often thought he was homeless.

homonym, homophone, homograph, heteronym
homonym (HAHM uh nim", HOH muh nim") (noun)
A word which is identical with another one in pronunciation, but differing from it in spelling and meaning: The word pairs "fair, fare" and "read, reed" are each an example of a homonym.
homophone (HAHM uh fohn", HOH muh fohn") (noun)
A word with the "same sound" as another one, is etymologically more precise and is less ambiguous in meaning than the reference "homonym": The words "him" and "hymn" are examples of homophones.
homograph (HAHM uh grahf, HOH muh graf") (noun)
A word that is identical with another one in spelling, but is different from it in origin and meaning, and sometimes in pronunciation: The words "bass" referring to a fish, and "bass" referring to the quality of the male voice, are examples of homographs.
heteronym (HET uhr uh nim") (noun)
A word with an identical spelling as another one but with different pronunciations and meanings: The word "row" is an example of a heteronym; such as, "row" meaning objects in a line and "row" meaning a quarrel or fight.

Whenever Laura is stumped about a definition for a confusing-word group, she checks the online dictionary because it is precise and clear; for example, homonym and homophone refer to words that have similar definitions, but the term homophone is more precise.

Two other words are homograph and heteronym which include spellings that may be the same; however, the definitions are very different.

homophobia, homosexualphobia
homophobia (hoh" muh FOH bee uh) (noun)
1. An excessive hatred of or fear of monotony, or doing the same thing over and over again: Jerome had homophobia regarding his job because he considered it to be so terribly boring having to repeat the same process over and over.

In this case, the elements homo-, hom- come from Greek meaning "same, common".

2. A fear of or an intense apprehension or hatred of homosexuality or homosexuals in general: Sally's feelings of homophobia were so intense that she avoided the so called "Gay Parade" that was going on in the city.
3. An "obsolete term" for someone who has an abnormal fear or hatred for human beings: The Latin element, Homo, is a genus (group of more than one species) of the family Homoinidae of which Homo sapiens is the only living species and so homophobia in this case refers to a pathological fear of humankind, humanity, or people in general.
homosexualphobia (hoh" moh SEK shoo uhl FOH bee uh) (noun)
A fear of, dread of, or strong contempt for lesbians and gay men: It was difficult for him to conceal his homosexualphobia when he saw two guys hugging and kissing each other on the bus going into town.

Whenever Jack hears a negative reference regarding homophobia, or intense fear and hatred of homosexuals, his friend, who is a gay activist speaks up, insisting that the speaker should use the more accurate term which is homosexualphobia; because homophobia has another application; such as, a fear or dread of being bored or having to endure monotony; that is, having a lack of variety in his life.

For more information about the homo- elements, see the Greek homo-, hom- and the Latin homo-, hom-, hum- units for more explanations.

honorarium, stipend
honorarium (ahn" uh RAIR ee uhm) (noun)
The gift of payment for a service in lieu of a specific price for the service: For her speech at the university, the visiting professor was given an honorarium.
stipend (STIGH pend", STIGH puhnd) (noun)
A specified sum of money paid on a periodic basis for services or expenses: Norman received a stipend from his company at the beginning of each year to pay for his housing costs.

Rebekah's contract stated that she would be paid a specific stipend at the end of the year and she was also encouraged to accept an honorarium which the university was offering when she delivered a speech there.

hoop, whoop, whoop
hoop (HOOP) (noun)
1. A ring or band of stiff material; such as, wood, used to hold pieces of an object together: The cooper used willow withes to create the hoop to hold the staves of the barrel in place.
2. A ring of metal, wood or plastic used as a toy: The children rolled the hoop down the street.

The girl next door won the hula hoop competition last week.

whoop (HWOOP, WOOP, HOOP) (noun)
A loud expression of enthusiasm: The crowd issued a whoop of delight when their favorite runner crossed the finish line.
whoop (HWOOP, WOOP, HOOP) (verb)
To shout loudly in an enthusiastic or excited way: You could hear the children whoop with excitement when they saw the presents.

During the fund raising race, there was a loud whoop of excitement when the hospital president rolled a bright pink plastic hoop across the finish line.

hospitable, hospital
hospitable (HAHS pi tuh buhl, hah SPIT uh buhl) (adjective)
Descriptive of a welcoming atmosphere or environment: The ambiance of the "Bed and Breakfast" for Sue's first stop was warm and hospitable.

The sunny window was a hospitable location for the exotic plant.

hospital (HAHS pi tl, HAHS pit'l) (noun)
An institution or building devoted to the care of ill and injured individuals: The ambulance took the injured train passengers to the nearest hospital.

When Carol's cat is ill, she takes it to the local pet hospital.

The solarium of the new hospital was designed to look very hospitable for the patients and guests.

hostel, hostile
hostel (HAHS tuhl) (noun)
A supervised, inexpensive lodging place for travelers; especially, young travelers: Kelly's parents were looking for a hostel in the places where their son could stay during his trip to Europe.
hostile (HAHS tuhl, HAHS tighl") (adjective)
Unfriendly, antagonistic: The atmosphere around the union bargaining table was hostile.

The rules which the hostel staff posted stated very clearly that any hostile behavior would not be tolerated.

hour, our
hour (OUR) (noun)
A measure of time consisting of one unit of a 24 unit cycle: The noon hour is typically when people eat lunch.

A normal day consists of two 12 segments or periods designated as hours; such as, 12 a.m. to 11:59 a.m. and 12 p.m. to 11:59 p.m.

our (OUR) (pronoun)
Indicating possession or ownership: That is our red car in the driveway, not yours!

Each of our watches indicated that there was one hour to go before the train would leave the station.

hues, whose
hues (HOOZ) (noun)
Description of colors on an individual color spectrum: There are many hues of green on the paint chart.
whose (HOOZ) (pronoun)
An indication of ownership: Whose hat is that on the table? Is it Jane's?

The zebra's stripes are lacking hues,
So they don't compare to you-know whose.

—From "Calvin and Hobbes" cartoon strip with reference to Hobbes, the tiger; as seen in the
International Herald Tribune, January 13, 2009.

Whose poem said that the hues of the rainbow would make a lovely flag?

human, humane
human (HYOO muhn) (adjective)
Characterizing any living person, male or female: The human form is very difficult to draw and requires many lessons in an art class.
humane (hyoo MAYN) (adjective)
Descriptive of sympathetic compassion and caring for another individual or animal: Taking the injured dog to the animal clinic was a humane way to treat it.

An important human characteristic of a person is the humane treatment of people who are not as well-off as others.

humble, humble
humble (HUHM buhl) (adjective)
Marked by meekness or modesty in behavior, attitude, or spirit; not arrogant or prideful: Earl had a humble attitude despite his great achievements in science and technology.
humble (HUHM buhl) (adjective)
Low in rank, quality, or station; unpretentious or lowly: For years, Ronda and Shawn lived in a humble cottage.

As a result of Jane's humble life, she was always humble in her interactions with the people who worked for her.

humerus, humorous
humerus (HYOO muhr uhs) (noun)
A bone extending from the elbow to the shoulder in humanoids or of a forelimb in other animals: A fractured humerus can be a very painful injury.
humorous (HYOO muhr uhs) (adjective)
Funny, comical, amusing: Sometimes a humorous saying can contain a great deal of wisdom.

It is not humorous when you hit the funny bone in your elbow; and it is even less humorous if you hit your humerus.

Pointing to explanation of homonyms, homophones, and homographs, etc. Confusing Words: Homonyms, Homophones, and Homographs; explained and demonstrated.

Pointing back to Confusing Words Quizzes, Part AConfusing Words: Units, Groups A to Z.

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