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HOMOPHONE. One of two or more words that are identical in sound but different in spelling and meaning: beer/bier, there/their/they're. The occurrence of homophones is largely a matter of historical chance, in which words with distinct meanings come to coincide phonologically: byre a cowshed, buyer one who buys. Words may be homophones in one variety of English but not another: father/farther and for/four are homophonous in RP, but not in AmE and ScoE; wails/Wales are general homophones; wails/Wales/whales are homophones for many, but not in IrE and ScoE. Whether/whither are homophones in Scotland, but not whether/weather, which are homophones in England. See HOMONYM.
ho·mo·phone / ˈhäməˌfōn; ˈhōmə-/ • n. each of two or more words having the same pronunciation but different meanings, origins, or spelling, e.g., new and knew. ∎ each of a set of symbols denoting the same sound or group of sounds.