[ het-er-uh-nim ]
/ ˈhɛt ər ə nɪm /


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

Nearby words

  1. heteromorphosis,
  2. heteromorphous,
  3. heteronomous,
  4. heteronomy,
  5. heteronormative,
  6. heteronymous,
  7. heteronymous diplopia,
  8. heteronymous hemianopsia,
  9. heteroousian,
  10. heteropathy

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


/ (ˈhɛtərəʊˌnɪm) /


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