flow, floe

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

The answer is simple: flow, floe are homophones of the English language.

floe
  1. :: noun

    An ice floe.

  2. :: noun

    A segment that has separated from such an ice mass.

flow
  1. :: verb-intransitive

    To move or run smoothly with unbroken continuity, as in the manner characteristic of a fluid.

  2. :: verb-intransitive

    To issue in a stream; pour forth: Sap flowed from the gash in the tree.

  3. :: verb-intransitive

    To circulate, as the blood in the body.

  4. :: verb-intransitive

    To move with a continual shifting of the component particles: wheat flowing into the bin; traffic flowing through the tunnel.

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").