a word spelled the same as another but having a different sound and meaning, as lead (to conduct) and lead (a metal).

Origin of heteronym

From the Late Greek word heterṓnymos, dating back to 1880–85. See hetero-, -onym
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

British Dictionary definitions for heteronym



one of two or more words pronounced differently but spelt alikethe two English words spelt ``bow'' are heteronyms Compare homograph
Derived Formsheteronymous (ˌhɛtəˈrɒnɪməs), adjectiveheteronymously, adverb

Word Origin for heteronym

C17: from Late Greek heteronumos, from Greek hetero- + onoma name
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012

Word Origin and History for heteronym

"word having the same spelling as another but with a different sound and meaning," 1880s, also "a thing's name in one language that is an exact translation of its name in another;" from hetero- + -onym "name" (see name). Related: Heteronymic; heteronymous.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper