From The Art and Popular Culture Encyclopedia
A homophone is a word that is pronounced the same as another word but differs in meaning. The words may be spelled the same, such as rose (flower) and rose (past tense of "rise"), or differently, such as carat, caret, and carrot, or your and you're. A homophone is a specific type of homonym. The term may also be used to apply to units shorter than words, such as letters or group of letters which are pronounced the same as another letter or group of letters.
Homophones are often used to create puns and to deceive the reader (as in crossword puzzles) or to suggest multiple meanings. The last usage is common in poetry and creative literature. An example of this is seen in Dylan Thomas' radio play Under Milk Wood: "The shops in mourning" where mourning can be heard as mourning or morning. Another vivid example is and Thomas Hood's poem "Faithless Sally Brown":
- His death, which happen'd in his berth,
- At forty-odd befell:
- They went and told the sexton, and
- The sexton toll'd the bell.