Homonyms, Homophones, Homographs and Polysemes


Homonyms are words that not only sound the same as other words, but are also spelled according to PUEBI. However, homonyms have different meanings due to different sources. When viewed etymologically, homonyms come from Greek, namely anoma ‘name’ and homo ‘same’. Dependence of the resulting meaning of homophones depends on the context of the sentence in it.

Thus, you cannot conclude that the word has a homophone meaning if you do not look at the context of the sentence as a whole or only half and half. For example, when you hear the word tofu, in the cognitive process thinking refers to two things, namely ‘understand after seeing’ or ‘food from white soybeans that are finely ground, boiled, and printed’.

If the context of the sentence reads, “I don’t know anything about this issue, the meaning of the word knows refers to the first. Meanwhile, if the context of the sentence is “I haven’t bought tofu since last week”, there is no doubt that the word tofu refers to the second meaning. In addition, in general, the meaning contained in the sentence is denotative (real meaning) and connotative (figuratively). For example,
The new staff just got hit by his boss for being late in sending a report. The meaning of the word hit is ‘knock with something hard or heavy, also used in a figurative sense’.
The circumcision ceremony started at 10.00-17.00 WIB at the family’s residence. The meaning of the word ‘punch’ is ‘the moment that states the time’.


Homographs are words that are spelled the same but differ in pronunciation and meaning. KBBI defines homograph as a term from linguistics (linguistics) which refers to ‘words that are spelled the same as other words, but have different pronunciations and meanings’. When viewed etymologically, the word homograph comes from the Greek, namely homos ‘same’ and grapho ‘write’. For example,

– When it rained in the afternoon at Uncle Sam’s house, I was told to buy apples near the market (the meaning of the word apple means fruit).
– Father wakes up very early because he has to attend the morning apple (the word apple in this sentence means ceremony).
– Aunt Dita’s wedding from Mr. Agus’ extended family will be held in Serang (the word Serang means the capital of Banten Province).
– Attack the opponent’s line of defense as deeply as possible!” is the last instruction given by the coach to Destya (the word attack means ‘to come to fight (injure, fight, and so on).
– Nadilla regularly went to a psychiatrist after breaking up with her boyfriend who is a pilot candidate to save her mental health (the word mental means ‘related to the mind and human nature, which is not body or energy’).
– The ball bounced a long way after being kicked by Captain Tsubasa (the word mental means ‘bouncing; bouncing’).


When viewed etymologically, homophone comes from the Greek, namely homo ‘same’ and phoni ‘sound or sound’. Thus, homophones are written with different spellings and meanings of words, but the pronunciation or sounding of the words is the same. For example,

– Father took his younger brother to go to the bank so he could teach him to take money from the Automated Teller Machine (ATM) (the word bank means ‘business entity in the financial sector that attracts and spends money in society, especially providing credit and services in payment traffic and money circulation ‘.
– Bang Jejen every day makes works that make him a street artist (the word bang means ‘greeting words for older brothers’).
– When my friend’s aunt talks dishonestly to her partner, I become suspicious of her integrity (the word sanction means ‘doubtful’ or ‘doubtful’).
– The schoolchildren are subject to sanctions by the school because they are involved in inter-school brawls (the word “sanctions” means ‘dependable actions, punishments, etc.) to force people to keep agreements or obey the provisions of the law (statutes of association, associations, and so on).
– Every day, Sheila routinely wears skirt pants every time she goes to teach (the word rok means ‘lower women’s clothes (subordinates)’).
– Tonight, the two lovebirds have agreed to watch a rock concert (the word rock means a type of music genre).

Polysemy is a word that has many different meanings, but is still related. For example, the word head based on the KBBI has several meanings, including (1) ‘the part of the body above the neck where hair grows’; (2) ‘leader; chairman (office, job, association, etc.)’; (3) ‘Soul or person’. Examples of sentences that use these words, among others.

Mas Ricky really likes football players with bald heads, like Fabian Barthez.
Vanny Ajis was elected to be the head of the social media distribution section in the case of overcoming Human Rights (HAM).
In the competition, each head will get an allowance of thirty times a year.

Material: Homonyms, Homophones, Homographs, Polysemy
Contributors: Adip Prasetyo, S. Hum.
Indonesian Literature Alumni FIB UI

Understanding Phrases

Phrases are grammatical units in the form of combinations of words with non-predicative words. Phrases can only fill one syntactic function. For example, the phrase a child who is dressed in red with a polka dot pattern can only fulfill the function of the subject. Phrases have several characteristics, including:

More than one word that fulfills one of the syntactic functions (subject, predicate, object, adverb, or complement).
Insertable Consider the following example:
Blue house Between these two words, you can insert, for example, new, into new blue house. Meanwhile, those that cannot be inserted are referred to as compound words (compositum). For example,
Hospital  Between the two words cannot be inserted.
Phrases have core elements and adverbs. In the phrase “blue house”, the word “house” becomes the core and the word “blue” describes the core.
Phrases can be typed based on word class. For example, the phrase “blue house” contains the word “rumah” which is a noun class so that the phrase belongs to the type of noun phrase.
Types of Phrases

Phrases are also divided into two types, namely:

1. Exocentric Phrases

An exocentric phrase is a phrase that partially or wholly does not have the same syntactic behavior as its components. This phrase has two components, namely:

The linking part in the form of a preposition or particle.
The part of the axis in the form of words or groups of words.

Examples of exocentric phrases.

Three people are studying in the school hall.
Three people are studying at .
Three people are studying the hall.
Three people are studying at school.

The phrase in the school hall has three elements in, the hall, and the school. As a prepositional phrase, the three elements cannot be replaced together. Unlike the case with endocentric phrases.

2. Endocentric Phrases

An endocentric phrase is a phrase whose whole has the same syntactic behavior as one of its parts.

Examples of exocentric phrases

Two students are practicing singing in the school hall.

Since they have the same distribution, it doesn’t matter if one of them is omitted because they can replace each other.

Two people are practicing singing in the school hall.
Two students are practicing singing in the school hall.

The pattern of Indonesian phrases is aptly described by Alisyahbana (1949: 59). He stated about DM law. The meaning of the DM law is that the word that explains/explains always lies behind the word being explained. Then in 1972, Bertsch and Vennemann emerged. They put forward the principle of natural ordering, meaning that the order of all types of modifiers in relation to their parent (the word being modified) is the same as the order of verbs and objects.

How to Determine the Phrase Pattern

Determination of phrase patterns is generally found in the Computer-Based Written Examination (UTBK) in the General Understanding and Knowledge (PPU) section. The steps in determining the phrase pattern, among others

First determine the core or concept explained (D) and the delimiter or explanation or concept explained (M) of the phrase. Because it is an option, the author will use the main terms and descriptions. For example, the phrase “artificial intelligence” is based on the word “intelligence”. This is because the word “intelligence” can form any type, for example “emotional intelligence, “intellectual intelligence”, or “spiritual intelligence” so that the word “artificial” becomes an explanation of the “intelligence” in question.
From the core and information, determine the class of words. Intelligence class nouns, as well as artificial words.
Look carefully, both the core, and the description of whether it is in the form of a root word or an affixed word.
If until point C has not been found the answer, you should look at the relationship between the core and the limiter. For example, the phrase back door. So, the relationship between the core (door) and back (description) is the location or position.
Types of Phrases based on Word Class at the Point

When viewed from the word class at the core of the phrase, phrases can be divided into several types, including:

Prepositional Phrases (Prepositional Phrases)

A prepositional phrase is a phrase that begins with a preposition and is followed by another word or group of words. For example, along memory lane, to a respected teacher, to a hurt ex, etc.

Nominal Phrases (Noun Phrases)

Nominal phrases are phrases that are based on a noun class word. For example, the blue bird, the square footage, the plane’s height, etc.

Verbal Phrases (Verb Phrases)

Verbal phrases are phrases that consist of a class of verbs. For example, getting gifts, eating fruit, jumping over fences, etc.

Adjective Phrases (Adjective Phrases)

Adjective phrases are phrases that consist of an adjective class word. For example, very red, never clean, always good, etc.

Adverbial Phrases (adverb phrases)

An adverb phrase is a phrase that is based on an adverb class word. For example, never once, only occasionally, never, etc.

Contributors: Adip Prasetyo, S. Hum.
Indonesian Literature Alumni FIB UI

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