adulterous, adulteress

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

The answer is simple: adulterous, adulteress are homophones of the English language.

  1. :: noun

    A woman who commits adultery. See Usage Note at -ess.

  1. :: adjective

    Relating to, inclined to, or marked by adultery.

Definitions from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition 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").