aught, ought

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

The answer is simple: aught, ought are homophones of the English language.

  1. :: pronoun

    Anything whatever: "Neither of his parents had aught but praise for him” ( Louis Auchincloss).

  2. :: adverb

    Archaic In any respect; at all.

  3. :: noun

    A cipher; zero.

  4. :: noun

    Archaic Nothing.

  1. :: pronoun

    Variant of aught1.

  2. :: noun

    Variant of aught2.

  3. :: auxiliary-verb

    Used to indicate obligation or duty: You ought to work harder than that.

  4. :: auxiliary-verb

    Used to indicate advisability or prudence: You ought to wear a raincoat.

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").