cygnet, signet

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

The answer is simple: cygnet, signet are homophones of the English language.

cygnet
  1. :: noun

    A young swan.

signet
  1. :: noun

    A seal, especially one used officially to mark documents.

  2. :: noun

    The impression made with such a seal.

  3. :: verb-transitive

    To mark or endorse with a signet.

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").