adherence, adherents

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

The answer is simple: adherence, adherents are homophones of the English language.

  1. :: noun

    The process or condition of adhering.

  2. :: noun

    Faithful attachment; devotion: "Adherence to the rule of law . . . is a very important principle” ( William H. Webster).

  1. :: noun

    Plural form of adherent.

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").