grate, great

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

The answer is simple: grate, great are homophones of the English language.

  1. :: verb-transitive

    To reduce to fragments, shreds, or powder by rubbing against an abrasive surface.

  2. :: verb-transitive

    To cause to make a harsh grinding or rasping sound through friction: grated her teeth in anger.

  3. :: verb-transitive

    To irritate or annoy persistently.

  4. :: verb-transitive

    Archaic To rub or wear away.

  1. :: adjective

    Informal Enthusiastic: a great lover of music.

  2. :: adjective

    Very large in size.

  3. :: adjective

    Larger in size than others of the same kind.

  4. :: adjective

    Large in quantity or number: A great throng awaited us. See Synonyms at large.

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").