49 Tricky Words with Multiple Meanings

English is a tricky language, especially because some words have two, three, or even four different meanings. We've compiled the list below to help English learners master these difficult words in no time.

If you want to keep practicing these and other tricky English vocabulary, such as homophones, idioms, and descriptive words, check out our package 1,574 Flashcards All English Learners Need to Have, created especially for English students and teachers. If you want a little more personal support in your learning, we also offer English tutoring for learners worldwide.

accent
(1) emphasis (2) the speech patterns of people from a particular region or group
attribute
(1) a characteristic or quality belonging to someone or something (2) to assign a quality to someone or something (3) to explain the cause of a situation as originating in a particular thing
axes
(1) the plural of "ax" or "axe" (2) the plural of "axis"
bass
(1) a man with a very deep voice (2) a musical instrument that produces a deep sound (3) a type of edible fish
bat
(1) a wooden implement used to hit the ball in games such as baseball and cricket (2) a small flying mammal whose forelimbs are adapted as wings
block
(1) a square or rectangular object often made of wood, stone, or plastic (2) an area in a city or town containing buildings and surrounded by streets (3) to intercept or prevent something from advancing
board
(1) a piece of wood cut into a rectangular length and used for a particular purpose (2) to get on a vehicle or other mode of transport, such as a bus, airplane, or ship
bow
(1) to bend the upper body forward as a way of showing respect (2) the front part of a boat or ship (3) a decorative knot, usually made from ribbon
compact
(1) taking up minimal space (2) to compress (3) a small container for makeup
compound
(1) something composed of multiple parts (2) a group of buildings within an enclosure
content
(1) happy or satisfied (2) everything inside a container
contract
(1) a formal agreement (2) to acquire, catch, or incur
desert
(1) an area with minimal precipitation (2) to abandon
digest
(1) a summarized or abridged version of several longer documents (2) the physiological process of breaking down food into absorbable nutrients
discount
(1) to reduce the price of something (2) to dismiss or underestimate the importance of something
down
(1) at a lower point or position (2) in birds, small soft feathers that cover and insulate the body
dream
(1) images, thoughts, and emotions occurring while asleep (2) something one desires to achieve (3) to envision or imagine
dress
(1) an item of clothing consisting of a skirt and bodice, generally worn by girls and women (2) to put on clothing
entrance
(1) an entryway, such as a door (2) to captivate
fight
(1) an aggressive or hostile altercation (2) to combat (3) to try to achieve something difficult
fine
(1) excellent quality (2) subtle, delicate, or fragile (3) a sum paid as a penalty for breaking a law
frequent
(1) occurring often (2) to regularly visit a place
incense
(1) a substance that is burned to produce pleasant-smelling smoke (2) to enrage or to make furious
lead
(1) to proceed at the front of a group (2) to guide, direct, or instruct others (3) a soft gray metal
learned
(1) past tense of "learn" (2) erudite (3) characterized by learning
live
(1) currently alive; not dead (2) occurring at the present time
minute
(1) a unit of time equaling 1/60th of an hour (2) very tiny
moped
(1) behaved in a gloomy or aimless manner (2) a motorized bicycle
object
(1) a nonliving physical thing that you can see or touch (2) a purpose or aim (3) to express your dislike or disapproval of something
paint
(1) a colored liquid applied to a surface to protect or decorate it (2) to apply paint to cover or decorate a surface or create an artistic image
picture
(1) a photograph, illustration, or painting (2) to visualize in your mind
place
(1) a particular location (2) to intentionally arrange or find a location for an object
point
(1) a sharpened tip (2) an objective (3) to aim
proceeds
(1) moves forward (2) profit earned from a commercial transaction
produce
(1) to generate or create (2) fruit and vegetables
project
(1) a task that requires planning, time, and effort to complete (2) to protrude beyond the edge
raise
(1) an increase in salary or hourly pay rate (2) to elevate or increase
refuse
(1) garbage (2) to decline, reject, or deny
row
(1) a number of items arranged in a line (2) to move a boat through water by means of oars
second
(1) the position following first (2) a unit of time equaling 1/60th of a minute
shovel
(1) a metal implement used to dig (2) to dig a hole or move material with a shovel
spring
(1) the season between winter and summer (2) a spiral of metal (3) to suddenly jump upward and forward
subject
(1) the topic being discussed (2) an area of study (3) to force someone to experience something unpleasant
swing
(1) a suspended chair that moves backward and forward (2) a style of popular music from the 1930s and 1940s (3) to sway repeatedly back and forth
tear
(1) to rip (2) a watery secretion from the eyes
track
(1) the footprints left by an animal (2) the steel rails that trains travel on (3) to follow or pursue something
wave
(1) to greet and bid farewell by moving the hand (2) a moving ridge on the surface of water
wind
(1) to wrap something flexible around an object (2) a moving current of air
wound
(1) wrapped (2) a bodily injury that breaks the skin

Now that you've learned (acquired knowledge) these words, are you feeling a little more learned (well educated)? Keep practicing these tricky words with multiple meanings and more using our package 1,574 Flashcards All English Learners Need to Have—and remember, we also offer English tutoring if you want personalized lessons and support on your English learning journey.