tenuis, tenuous

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

The answer is simple: tenuis, tenuous are homophones of the English language.

tenuis
  1. :: noun

    Linguistics A voiceless unaspirated stop in ancient Greek.

  2. :: noun

    Linguistics A voiceless stop.

tenuous
  1. :: adjective

    Having little substance; flimsy: a tenuous argument.

  2. :: adjective

    Having a thin consistency; dilute.

  3. :: adjective

    Long and thin; slender: tenuous strands.

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").