continence, continents

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

The answer is simple: continence, continents are homophones of the English language.

  1. :: noun

    Self-restraint; moderation.

  2. :: noun

    Voluntary control over urinary and fecal discharge.

  3. :: noun

    Partial or complete abstention from sexual activity. See Synonyms at abstinence.

  1. :: noun

    Plural form of continent.

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").