Is supposed to be for same pronunciation and spelling, or just either?

The tag guidance says:

a relation between a group of words that share the same spelling and the same pronunciation but have different meanings

I was going to use it to ask if there was an unambiguous way to differentiate between the two P.I.E "*ster-" variations I found, but I wasn't sure if it was the right tag. Also, exists but without tag wiki.

(Strand's etymology and Sterile's etymology. Wiktionary's using the second, currently.)

  • 1
    Homonymy is the state of being a homonym. The question is what homonym means, and whether it refers to spelling or pronunciation. So, bear (v), bear (n), bare (adj): one, two, or three homonyms?
    – jlawler
    Commented Jun 2, 2022 at 20:58
  • 2
    The Wikipedia article made it more complex: homograph, homophone, or both.
    – Andrew T.
    Commented Jun 5, 2022 at 4:14
  • 1
    – jlawler
    Commented Jul 17, 2022 at 20:01

1 Answer 1


I've heard the terms homophone for the same pronunciation, homograph for the same orthography, and homonym for both. And we do have a separate tag.

But personally, I don't think we need three separate tags for this. Neither is very widely used, and for things like Proto-Indo-European (which has no native orthography), one always implies the other. I wouldn't object to merging the two and having it used for any of the three meanings.

  • 1
    Yeah, like antonym, homonym is an ill-defined term. Being a linguist, I would use it as equivalent to homophone, since only the pronunciation (and not the spelling) matters.
    – jlawler
    Commented Jun 18, 2022 at 21:22

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