pray, prey

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

The answer is simple: pray, prey are homophones of the English language.

  1. :: verb-intransitive

    To utter or address a prayer or prayers to God, a god, or another object of worship.

  2. :: verb-intransitive

    To make a fervent request or entreaty.

  3. :: verb-transitive

    To utter or say a prayer or prayers to; address by prayer.

  4. :: verb-transitive

    To ask (someone) imploringly; beseech. Now often used elliptically for I pray you to introduce a request or entreaty: Pray be careful.

  1. :: noun

    An animal hunted or caught for food; quarry.

  2. :: noun

    One that is defenseless, especially in the face of attack; a victim.

  3. :: noun

    The act or practice of preying.

  4. :: verb-intransitive

    To hunt, catch, or eat as prey: Owls prey on mice.

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").