Close vs close

The words close and close are spelled identically but are pronounced differently and have different meanings, which makes them heteronyms. Heteronyms exist because of our ever-changing English language, and these words with the same spelling and different pronunciation and meaning are a challenge for those who wish to learn to speak English. It can be difficult to learn how to spell different words that look the same and how to use them in sentences, because they are easily confused. The way the pronunciations and definitions differ can be confusing even to native English speakers when attempting to learn vocabulary correctly. Phonological spelling and spelling rules do not always work, and most people avoid misspelling and misuse by studying vocabulary words from spelling lists, enhancing their literacy skills through spelling practice, and learning words in English by studying a dictionary of the English language. English words are also spelled according to their etymologies rather than their sound. For instance, the word tear meaning a liquid drop that falls from an eye is derived from the Old English word tear, meaning a drop or nectar; tear meaning to pull apart comes from the Old English word tearan, which means to lacerate. Heteronyms are confusing words and are commonly misspelled words because of the confusion that arises from words that are pronounced differently but are spelled the same and come from a different etymology. They are often used in puns and riddles. When reading, it is sometimes difficult to know which word is being used in a sentence and how to pronounce the word phonetically. A spell checker will rarely find this type of mistake in English vocabulary, so do not rely on spell check for these commonly confused words but instead, learn to spell. Even a participant in a spelling bee like the National Spelling Bee will ask for an example of a heteronym in a sentence, so that she understands which word she is to spell by using context clues. Do not confuse heteronyms with homophones, which are two or more words that are pronounced in the same way but are spelled differently and have different meanings like sow and sew; do not confuse them with homonyms, which are words that have the same spelling and pronunciation but different meanings like spring as in spring forth and spring as in the season of the year. We will examine the definitions of the words close and close, where these words came from, and some examples of their use in sentences.

Close (clohz) is a verb that means to fasten, to complete, to shut, to fill or block, to come nearer to, to come together, to end. Related words are closes, closed, closing, closer. The word close is derived from the Old French word clore, which means to shut.

Close (clohs) is an adjective that means near to, within a short distance, or to be emotionally connected. Related words are closer and closest. The word close is derived from the Old French word clos, which means secret or confined.


Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton refused to close the door on the possibility of entering the 2020 presidential race, telling an interviewer Tuesday, “I never say never to anything.” (USA Today)

Remember you can either turn to Him when your world reels and crumbles, or you can turn on Him, but when you close the door of your life on God, it’s a very dark, dark world out there. (The Philippine Star)

In gesture to Trump, US allies close to deal to pay more for NATO running costs (Reuters)

THE Crown’s Matt Smith has been growing close to his co-star Claire Foy amid rumours of a split from his long-term girlfriend Lily James. (The Sun)