massed, mast

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

The answer is simple: massed, mast are homophones of the English language.

  1. :: verb

    Simple past tense and past participle of mass.

  1. :: noun

    Nautical A tall vertical spar, sometimes sectioned, that rises from the keel or deck of a sailing vessel to support the sails and the standing and running rigging.

  2. :: noun

    A vertical pole.

  3. :: noun

    A tall vertical antenna, as for a radio.

  4. :: noun

    A captain's mast.

Definitions from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License, 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").