Homophones and a Multiplicity of Meaning

A book, watch, and glass sitting on a desk ready for reading

I am a big fan of how homophones can provide a multiplicity of meaning to a word in a poem. It is a poetic device that I use myself and one I think worth exploring.


Each of two or more words having the same pronunciation but different meanings, origins, or spelling.

In my poem, It Was an Honor To know Him, I used the word Knight in one of the lines:

before the battle’s even begun,
but still the heart beats it’s thump
and a Moi stands as hope’s guard
against the coming force of knight
and crown against the thunderous thump—

When you consider slang and common meanings that increases the options available to a writer of poetry. While. there might not be much too say about it as it is a simple concept, the implications of it’s use are large. As I cannot remember good examples I will add them to this page as I located them, but as all other things use your imagination and I am sure you will see some as you are writing.

Common examples of words that are homophones

  • brake/break
  • cell/sell
  • cent/scent
  • die/dye
  • flour/flower
  • for/four
  • heal/heel
  • hear/here
  • hour/our
  • idle/idol
  • knight/night
  • knot/not.
  • poor/pour
  • right/write
  • sea/see
  • sole/soul
  • son/sun
  • steal/steel
  • tail/tale
  • weather/whether
  • The Thinker
    A poem I wrote while thinking about the lost statue, “The Poet at the Gates of Hell,” now known for just it’s center portion, The Thinker.
  • Children Spinning
    In youths youngest hour comes the dawn and we whirl around at the sky, and being young and in love
  • My Sweet English
    There are so many languages to love, but only one English to prize and take into ones arms with such fondness as to spark flames of passion high as angels might fancy to fly, my dear.
  • To be
    This rusted throne of kings, this gilded smile, This divine right of blood, this gift of sight,
  • The Plunge
    Around her I was Icarus with wings alight and burnt to nubs, now glowing as embers and garnets as I slowly descend into the adjust of knowing there is no longer an us and longing to submit to the plunge.
  • We Wish to be Kings not Free
    We wish to be a king not free of the autocrat or tyrant’s immortal knee on our airway— easier to be chained than change.

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