tense, tents

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

The answer is simple: tense, tents are homophones of the English language.

  1. :: adjective

    Tightly stretched; taut. See Synonyms at stiff, tight.

  2. :: adjective

    In a state of mental or nervous tension.

  3. :: adjective

    Characterized by nervous tension or suspense.

  4. :: adjective

    Linguistics Enunciated with taut muscles, as the sound (ē) in keen.

  1. :: noun

    Plural form of tent.

Definitions from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition, from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License 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").