Which One? 14 Homonyms With Multiple Meanings

2 min read

Oh, English. You’re such a widely used language, but you certainly are complicated. Let’s talk about those words that are spelled and pronounced the same, but have multiple meanings. These words are called "homonyms," and they can make for some confusing cases of miscommunication.


Your dog uses the verb "bark" to alert you when there’s someone at the door. The noun "bark" is the outer covering of a tree.


As a verb, "bolt" means to move extremely fast and suddenly. It has a couple of different meanings as a noun. It can be a type of metal fastener, or it can be part of a lightning strike (as in, "bolt of lightning").


You can have a buckle (noun) on your belt, but you can also buckle (verb) that same belt. And if you’re under a great deal of stress (either physically or emotionally), you can buckle, or collapse, under the pressure.


As a noun, "current" is the direction or speed of flow of a liquid, gas, or electricity. You might talk about the current in the ocean, or the current of electricity. As an adjective, "current" is something happening now, or trendy, modern, and new.


"Draft" has several definitions. In some countries, the draft is a noun for when citizens are obligatorily entered to participate in the military. In this sense, it can also be a verb — to draft someone to serve in the military. There are a couple of additional noun senses of "draft": a current of air, and a version of a document.


As a verb, "harbor" means to provide shelter. You can also harbor feelings (good or bad) inside of you. As a noun, the harbor is an area along the coast where boats can be anchored.


A cute baby bird poking its way out of the shell — that’s "hatch" as a verb. The opening, often of a door on hinges, in the floor or ceiling, is "hatch" as a noun.


As a noun, "jam" is a sweet, gooey paste made out of fruit, which you spread on your toast. You can also use it as a verb and jam your suitcase full of shoes. Additionally, there's the troublesome sense (verb and noun) of trying to jam someone up, or putting them in a jam.


Using "mine" as a possessive adjective, you can claim, "The last cookie is mine." It can also be a noun for the place where minerals, gemstones, and metals are dug out of the ground.


You trim your nails, the hard pieces on the ends of your fingers and toes, when they get too long. You can use a nail — a sharp, skinny piece of metal — to hang a picture. Then you can nail (verb) that same piece of metal into the wall.


As a noun, a novel is a fictional book. "Novel" can also be used as an adjective for something new, unusual, or different.


A pool can be an area of water, usually for swimming or sometimes reflecting. It can also be a game you play at the bar with colored, numbered balls and cue sticks.


You season (verb) your food with spices and flavorings. You also progress through the seasons (noun) of the year: spring, summer, winter, and fall ("all you gotta do is call...").


You can eat a squash from the family of vegetables with a hard exterior shell. You can play squash at the gym with a racquet and ball. You can also squash (compress or destroy with pressure) a spider.

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