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Homophones, Homonyms, and Homographs

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622305.  Tue Oct 06, 2009 11:09 am Reply with quote

Tire in English, as well as being a word meaning to become weary, is also an archaic word meaning (as a noun) attire, and as a verb to adorn the hair with an ornament.

622389.  Tue Oct 06, 2009 3:11 pm Reply with quote

Homonyms abound in this 1950s article on frequently used words:
Time Magazine - Education: First Things First
The author of the work reviewed claims 800 different meanings for the word 'run' and its compounds.

The series Balderdash and Piffle highlighted 'set' as a word with over 200 meanings in some versions of the OED.

Does anyone know of words exhibiting a similar degree of semantic versatility in other languages?

622548.  Tue Oct 06, 2009 6:01 pm Reply with quote

Set has 464 meanings according to the full OED; on the last list that the Oxford people published, run comes next with a mere 396.

Although in fact, make has overtaken set in the last couple years, and has even more meanings. (I'd tell you just how many, but I can't see any easier way to find that out than to count them and I'm not going to!)

The supplementary question is an interesting one, and I don't at once know the answer. Depending on how we define "word", there may possibly be Chinese words with a vast number of meanings.

Here's one thing I do know though. Next time you are in Serbia, you might find yourself needing to say "Up there, worse black forests burn worse in the higher parts". Then again, you might not - but if you do, don't worry about your limited knowledge of Serbian. That sentence is:

Gore gore gore gore gore gore gore.

622774.  Wed Oct 07, 2009 12:09 pm Reply with quote

'Cast' is another one with a great many meanings.

622821.  Wed Oct 07, 2009 1:57 pm Reply with quote

And our old favourite: (B/b)uffalo.

622824.  Wed Oct 07, 2009 2:00 pm Reply with quote

Personally, I'm fond of the (only?) word that is pronounced differently depending upon whether or not it is capitalized:



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