rowed, road, rode

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

The answer is simple: rowed, road, rode are homophones of the English language.

road
  1. :: noun

    The surface of a road; a roadbed.

  2. :: noun

    A course or path: the road to riches.

  3. :: noun

    An open, generally public way for the passage of vehicles, people, and animals.

  4. :: noun

    A railroad.

rode
  1. :: verb

    Past tense of ride.

  2. :: noun

    Nautical A cable, chain, or rope, especially one attached to the anchor of a small boat.

rowed
  1. :: verb

    Simple past tense and past participle of row.

  2. :: adjective

    Formed into a row, or rows; having a specified number of rows.

Definitions from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition, from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License 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").