passed, past

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

The answer is simple: passed, past are homophones of the English language.

  1. :: verb

    Simple past tense and past participle of pass.

  2. :: adjective

    That has passed beyond a certain point (chiefly in set collocations).

  3. :: adjective

    That has passed a given qualification or examination; qualified.

  1. :: adjective

    No longer current; gone by; over: His youth is past.

  2. :: adjective

    Having existed or occurred in an earlier time; bygone: past events; in years past.

  3. :: adjective

    Earlier than the present time; ago: 40 years past.

  4. :: adjective

    Just gone by or elapsed: in the past few days.

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").