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Requirements: You know how to spell words correctly that sound the same, from the simple: “to/too/two”, to the tricky “insure/ensure”. Before climbing a mountain peak, you take a peek at the map.

And you don’t write “with baited breath” unless you specifically mean “a mouth full of worms.”

Art by Philadelphia artist and illustrator Michele Melcher. There’s a reason it’s a bridled horse wearing a crown, out in the weather…

Hey, shouldn’t this badge be called ‘homographs’?
Yes, and no. (And by asking this question, you have proved that you are folks after our own hearts!)
In the strict sense of the term, ‘homonyms’ are words that share the same spelling and pronunciation, but are distinct in meaning (like ‘bark’, the sound a dog makes, and ‘bark’, the skin of a tree.) In the strict sense, a homonym is distinct from a homophone (same sound, different spelling: “to”, “too”, and “two”), and distinct from homograph (same spelling, different sound: “sow” to plant seeds and “sow” a female pig)

However, ‘homonym’ is also validly used as the name of the set that includes homonyms, homophones, and homographs, cf. the Wikipedia entry that we’ve pulled those examples from. That entry, in turn cites the Random House Unabridged Dictionary. Our use of the term here is intended to convey “the wearer knows that words have precise meanings separate from their spellings”. We believe that “Homonym” in its loose sense accurately and defensibly conveys that meaning. Plus, it’s the more generally-recognized term, and so we’ve used it here. Some folks disagree, of course, but we affirm that this use of “-nym” is at least defensibly correct :)

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