stair, stare

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

The answer is simple: stair, stare are homophones of the English language.

  1. :: noun

    A series or flight of steps; a staircase. Often used in the plural.

  2. :: noun

    One of a flight of steps.

  1. :: verb-intransitive

    To look directly and fixedly, often with a wide-eyed gaze. See Synonyms at gaze.

  2. :: verb-intransitive

    To be conspicuous; stand out.

  3. :: verb-intransitive

    To stand on end; bristle, as hair or feathers.

  4. :: verb-transitive

    To look at directly and fixedly: stared him in the eyes.

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").