dour, dower

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

The answer is simple: dour, dower are homophones of the English language.

  1. :: adjective

    Marked by sternness or harshness; forbidding: a dour, self-sacrificing life.

  2. :: adjective

    Silently ill-humored; gloomy: the proverbially dour New England Puritan.

  3. :: adjective

    Sternly obstinate; unyielding: a dour determination.

  1. :: noun

    The part or interest of a deceased man's real estate allotted by law to his widow for her lifetime. Also called dowry.

  2. :: noun

    See dowry.

  3. :: noun

    A natural endowment or gift; a dowry.

  4. :: verb-transitive

    To give a dower to; endow.

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").