whoa, woe

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

The answer is simple: whoa, woe are homophones of the English language.

  1. :: interjection

    Used as a command to stop, as to a horse.

  1. :: noun

    Deep distress or misery, as from grief; wretchedness. See Synonyms at regret.

  2. :: noun

    Misfortune; calamity: economic and political woes.

  3. :: interjection

    Used to express sorrow or dismay.

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").