Latin homographs and homonyms

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Latin has both homographs, words spelled the same but different in sound and meaning (as in English "wind," the verb meaning to turn, and "wind" the noun meaning fast moving air) and homonyms, words spelled and pronounced identically, but different in meaning (as in English "bear," the verb meaning to support or carry, and "bear," the animal). Knowledge of these is helpful for those wanting to pronounce and translate Latin, and especially for the scansion of Latin poetry, since Latin meters are based on syllable quantity (see Latin prosody). Latin does not use separate characters to differentiate long and short versions of the same vowel (as does ancient Greek, for example), and this is the source of a large numbers of homographs. A helpful modern convention in writing Latin is to distinguish vowel quantities by using a macron above the letter to indicate a long vowel, while the absence of a macron indicates a short vowel. For example, canet = "sings" but cānet = "is white." Two dots over a vowel means that it is pronounced as a separate syllable rather than being part of a diphthong (e.g āëre, three syllables vs. aere, two syllables) (see Latin spelling and pronunciation). These lists are based on collections by David Kovacs of the University of Virginia.

Latin Homographs (words spelled the same but differently pronounced)

aere bronze < aes aeris, n. āëre air < āēr āĕris, m.
alitis, you nourish < alo -ere ālitis, winged, winged one = bird < āles alitis
cāne white, white-haired < cānus -a -um cane sing < canō -ere, cane dog < canis -is
cavēre to be careful (infinitive) cāvēre they were careful = cāvērunt
conditus founded < condō -ere condītus seasoned, flavored < condiō -īre
cupidō eager < cupidus -a -um cupīdō desire < cupīdō -inis
decōra good-looking < decōrus -a -um decora glory < decus decoris, n.
dīcō say < dīcere dicō dedicate < dicāre
ducis, ducī, ducēs leader(s) < dux ducis, m. dūcis, dūcī, dūcēs lead < dūcō dūcere
eadem the same = fem. nom. sing. or n. pl. eādem the same = fem. abl. sing.
ēdō put forth edō eat
ēdūcō lead out ēducō educate, bring up
emī to be bought ēmī I have bought
es, est, estis, esse be < sum esse fuī ēs, ēst, ēstis, ēsse eat < edō -ere
fēmina, fēminīs woman < fēmina -ae, f. femina, feminis thigh < femur feminis, n.
ferimus we bear < fero ferre ferīmus we strike < feriō -īre
feriās thou mayest strike < feriō -īre fēriās holiday < fēriae fēriārum, f. pl.
fīde faithful < fīdus -a -um fidē faith < fidēs -ēī, f. fide lyre < fidēs -is, f.
fūgit he fled fugit he is fleeing
īdem the same = m. nom. sing. or pl. idem the same = n. nom. or accus. sing.
imprimis press < imprimō -ere imprīmīs especially (adv.)
iūra justice, law < iūs iūris, n. iūrā swear < iūrō -āre
lātus broad < lātus -a -um lātus carried < ferō ferre latus side < latus lateris, n.
lepōrem charm < lepos lepōrem, m. leporem hare < lepus leporis, m.
levis light lēvis smooth
levī light < levis -e lēvī smeared < linō -ere lēvī litum
liber book līber free
malum evil-doing < malum -ī, n. mālum apple < mālum -ī, n.
malus bad < malus -a -um mālus apple tree < mālus -ī, f. mālus mast < mālus -ī, m.
mala bad < malus -a -um māla cheek < māla -ae, f.
malō bad < malus -a -um mālō I prefer < mālō mālle
māne in the morning (adv.) manē stay < maneō -ēre
manet remains < maneō -ēre mānet drips < mānō -āre
manibus hands < manus -ūs, f. mānibus ghost < mānēs -ium m. pl.
modo only, recently, provided that modō means, measure < modus -ī, m.
molitus grind < molō -ere mōlītus having labored at < mōlior -īrī -ītus
movēre to move mōvēre they moved = mōvērunt
nitor brightness nītor try
nōta well-known < nōtus -a -um nota, mark < nota -ae, f.
nōvī I know < noscō -ere nōvī novī new < novus -a -um
oblītus having forgotten < oblīviscor oblīviscī oblitus oblitus smeared < oblinō, smear
occīdī killed < occīdō -ere (caedō) occidī died < occidō -ere (cadō)
ōra mouth, face < ōs ōris, n. ōrā edge, border < ōra -ae, f. ōrā pray < ōrō ōrāre
pāret obeys < pāreō -ēre paret may supply < parō -āre
patēre to be open < pateō patere suffer < patior patī passus sum
pedēs foot < pēs pedis, m. pedes footsoldier < pedes peditis, m.
pēdis, pēditis you fart < pēdō -ere pedis, gen. of ‘foot’, peditis, gen. of footsoldier
placet please < placeō -ēre plācet placate, appease < plācō -āre
populus people pōpulus poplar tree
prōcērum tall < prōcērus -a -um procerum leading men < procerē -um m. pl.
quoque also (adv.) quōque and by which (quō-que)
regiō region < regiō -ōnis, f. rēgiō royal < rēgius -a -um
regis, regī, rege direct < regō -ere rēgis, rēgī, rēge king < rēx rēgis, m.
rēfert it makes a difference refert he brings back < referō referre
relīquī left < relinquō -ere relīquī reliquī the rest < reliquus -a -um
satis enough satīs sown, planted < serō serere sēvī satus
senis old man < senex senis, m. sēnīs six each < sēnī -ae -a
secūrī with an axe < secūris -is, f. sēcūrī free from care < sēcūrus -a -um
sēde resting-place, seat < sēdēs -is, f. sedē sit < sedeō -ēre sēdī sessum
sedēre to sit sēdēre they sat = sēdērunt
sequere or sequeris you follow sequēre or sequēris you will follow
sōlum alone < sōlus -a -um solum soil < solum -ī, n.
uter which of two ūter bag, skin, bottle
utī so that, that = ut ūtī use < ūtor ūtī ūsus sum
vādō, vādis go < vādō vādere vadō, vadīs ford < vadum -ī, n.
vēnī I have come venī come!
venīs you come < veniō vēnīs veins < vēna -ae, f. vēnīs are sold <vēneō -īre
vēnit has come, is for sale venit he is coming
vēnēre came = vēnērunt venere sex < venus veneris, f.
vidēre to see < videō -ēre vīdēre they saw = vīdērunt
vincis, vincimus, vincitis conquer < vincō -ere vincīs, vincīmus, vincītis bind < vinciō -īre
vīrīs strength = acc. of vīrēs < vīs virīs men < vir virī, m.
vītium of vines < vītis -is f. vitium fault < vitium -ī, n.
vocēs you may call < vocō -āre vōcēs voices, remarks < vōx vōcis, f.

Latin Homonyms (words spelled and pronounced the same, but with different meanings)

Word Meaninga Meaningb
adeō I approach so, so much
canis dog you sing > cano
capite y'all take (imperative) > capere) by a head > caput
equitēs horseman > eques you ride a horse > equito
fidēs faith lyre
līberī free children
mālī apple (gen.) masts
maris sea > mare male > mas
pendēs you hang > pendeo you will pay > pendo
sēdem, sēdēs seat > sēdēs, -is sit > sedeō
vēnit came > venio is sold > vēneo
victus conquered > vinco nourishment > victus, -us
apium of bees > apis parsley
consuli consul (dat.) to be consulted > consulo
faciēs you will make > facio face, appearance
forēs you would be > sum door > foris
māla cheek apples > malum
obsidēs hostage > obses you beisige > obsideō
pariēs wall you will bear > pario -ere
rudis unshaped you roar > rudo
sōlī alone > sōlus sun (dat.) > sōl
vincī to be beaten > vincō tie! (imperative) > vinciō
volēs you will want > velle you may fly > volāre