fennel, phenyl

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

The answer is simple: fennel, phenyl are homophones of the English language.

  1. :: noun

    A Eurasian plant (Foeniculum vulgare) having pinnate leaves, clusters of small yellow flowers grouped in umbels, and aromatic seeds used as flavoring.

  2. :: noun

    The edible seeds or stalks of this plant.

  1. :: noun

    The univalent organic radical C6H5, derived from benzene by removal of one hydrogen atom.

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").