What you name a string of glyphs (letters) regardless of their meaning and regardless of their pronunciation?

for example in Persian ‍‍س+ی+ر = س‌ی‌ر represents following words (and more):

  1. /siɾ/ garlic
  2. /siɾ/ a unit of weight (75g)
  3. /sejɾ/ travel

These words are homonyms or heteronyms, or in English moped=m+o+p+e+d:

  1. moped /ˈmoʊpɛd/ n. a small motorcycle
  2. moped /ˈmoʊpt/ v. past tense of mope

What you name moped and س‌ی‌ر: some letters that are written representation of one or more morpheme?

Update: to clarify what I am looking consider following table, what you name first column?

 (?)     number of words
------  ----------------
moped          2
dog            1
does           3

Update 2: In languages that are written use Arabic script short vowel generally are not written, as a result most strings represent more than one word.

  • Characters? .....
    – Cerberus
    Commented Jan 15, 2013 at 15:00
  • So what you mean is a continuous stroke? I don't quite understand.
    – Cerberus
    Commented Jan 15, 2013 at 17:50
  • @Cerberus I need two words to fill these blankets: "سیر is a ... for that three words." and "سیر have three ...". Commented Jan 15, 2013 at 18:38
  • Aren't Persian and Arabic letters just called letters? If not letters, then I would call them characters. But I think we call them letters: it is after all an alphabet. The fact that they are written attached in words doesn't change that: the Latin, Greek, and Cyrillic alphabets can also be written attached. If words can be attached without spaces in Persian, I could call the result long words, compound words, or phrases, or sentences, depending on their function. What does سیر mean? Are those elements like ر letters? I would think so?
    – Cerberus
    Commented Jan 15, 2013 at 19:06
  • It's an abjad, not quite an alphabet. Only the consonants are represented, and there are clues to the vowels which are optionally deleted, in idiosyncratic random ways, by variable social conventions. That's why there's no exact relationship between the characters and the phonemics; phoneme is a concept that depends on an alphabet, not an abjad like Arabic or an abugida like Devanagari.
    – jlawler
    Commented Jan 15, 2013 at 20:06

3 Answers 3


Homograph. Literally "same spelling". Any two words with different meanings which are spelled the same regardless of their pronunciation (it could be the same or it could be different. It doesn't matter).

Taking the discussion of abjad to it's logical conclusion, I see no reason why this term couldn't be extended to even completely non-phonetic writing systems. I can easily imagine some Chinese-like ideograph which represents two separate concepts (perhaps with the same pronunciation or not). Since they are orthographically identical I'd still consider them homographs.

  • Thanks for your note, But it is not what I am looking for. Commented Jan 18, 2013 at 10:13
  • @PHPist I've looked at your clarification. Honestly, the word I'd use is just "word" (or as Colin Fine suggested, "form"). If you want some word that denotes it has multiple senses, then maybe "homographic word/form". Addressing one of the comments you left on your original question, I'd write: "سیر is a homograph for these three senses." and "سیر has three senses". I hope it helps.
    – acattle
    Commented Jan 18, 2013 at 18:34

As far as I am aware, it is not a concept that has been discussed enough to have a customary term. If I were writing about it, I would use word form.


As Colin Fine said Word form is probably most related term. But I decide to use string because convey exactly just what I mean, also in computer programming a string of letters are called string.

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.