sty, stye

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

The answer is simple: sty, stye are homophones of the English language.

  1. :: noun

    An enclosure for swine.

  2. :: noun

    A filthy place.

  3. :: verb-transitive

    To shut up in or live in a sty.

  4. :: noun

    Inflammation of one or more sebaceous glands of an eyelid.

  1. :: noun

    A bacterial infection in the eyelash or eyelid.

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").