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From Citizendium, the Citizens' Compendium
A homophone is a word that sounds exactly like another. 'Meat', referring to flesh, sounds exactly like 'meet', meaning 'come together'.
When homophones have the same spelling, they are also homonyms: the modal verb 'will' as in 'will they ever come?' sounds and also looks exactly like the noun 'will' as in 'having a strong will' or 'last will and testament'.
Words with the same spelling are called homographs, but they are not all homophones: some have different pronunciations, and are heteronyms, as for example the verb 'to tear', meaning 'to rip', and 'tear', as in 'tearful'. Thus homonyms are homophonic homographs.
Some examples in English
Some words sound the same in some forms of speech but not others. For example:
In most American speech:
In the speech of many Americans:
In most of England:
- awe/oar/or (emphatic pronunciation)/ore
In various parts of England: