why, wye, y

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

The answer is simple: why, wye, y are homophones of the English language.

  1. :: adverb

    For what purpose, reason, or cause; with what intention, justification, or motive: Why is the door shut? Why do birds sing?

  2. :: conjunction

    The reason, cause, or purpose for which: I know why you left.

  3. :: conjunction

    Usage Problem On account of which; for which: "The reason why [regular verbs] are called regular is that we can predict what all the other three forms are” ( Randolph Quirk).

  4. :: noun

    The cause or intention underlying a given action or situation: studying the whys of antisocial behavior.

  1. :: noun

    The letter y.

  2. :: noun

    An object shaped like a Y.

  1. :: noun

    The 25th letter of the modern English alphabet.

  2. :: noun

    Any of the speech sounds represented by the letter y.

  3. :: noun

    The 25th in a series.

  4. :: noun

    Something shaped like the letter Y.

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").