dense, dents

The words dense, dents sound the same but have different meanings and spellings. Why do dense, dents sound the same even though they are completely different words?

The answer is simple: dense, dents are homophones of the English language.

dense
  1. :: adjective

    Having relatively high density.

  2. :: adjective

    Crowded closely together; compact: a dense population.

  3. :: adjective

    Hard to penetrate; thick: a dense jungle.

  4. :: adjective

    Permitting little light to pass through, because of compactness of matter: dense glass; a dense fog.

dents
  1. :: noun

    Plural form of dent.

  2. :: verb

    Third-person singular simple present indicative form of dent.

Definitions from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition, from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License and Wordnik.

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About Homophones

Homophones (literally "same sound") are usually defined as words that share the same pronunciation, regardless of how they are spelled.

If they are spelled the same then they are also homographs (and homonyms); if they are spelled differently then they are also heterographs (literally "different writing").