basal, basil

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

The answer is simple: basal, basil are homophones of the English language.

  1. :: adjective

    Of, relating to, located at, or forming a base.

  2. :: adjective

    Botany Located at or near the base of a plant stem, or at the base of any other plant part: basal placentation.

  3. :: adjective

    Of primary importance; basic.

  1. :: noun

    An Old World aromatic annual herb (Ocimum basilicum) in the mint family, cultivated for its leaves. Also called sweet basil.

  2. :: noun

    The leaves of this plant used as a seasoning.

  3. :: noun

    Any of various plants in the genus Ocimum, native to warm regions, having aromatic foliage and terminal clusters of small, usually white flowers.

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").