whir, were

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

The answer is simple: whir, were are homophones of the English language.

  1. :: verb

    Second person singular and plural and first and third person plural past indicative of be.

  2. :: verb

    Past subjunctive of be. See Usage Notes at if, wish.

  1. :: verb-intransitive

    To move so as to produce a vibrating or buzzing sound.

  2. :: verb-transitive

    To cause to make a vibratory sound.

  3. :: noun

    A sound of buzzing or vibration: the whir of turning wheels.

  4. :: noun

    Excited, noisy activity; bustle: the whir of busy shoppers.

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").