unreal, unreel

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

The answer is simple: unreal, unreel are homophones of the English language.

  1. :: adjective

    Not real or substantial; illusory.

  2. :: adjective

    Slang So remarkable as to elicit disbelief; fantastic.

  3. :: adjective


  1. :: verb-transitive

    To unwind (something) from or as if from a reel or become unwound.

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").