When I learn some new words, I think I have seen them before, and then realize that they are probably some close-spelling words, but I can't think of them now. Are there sources where I can look up for similar spelling words for a given word? For example, "grotesque".


  • 3
    agrep -3 grotesque /usr/share/dict/words?
    – user230
    Dec 20, 2013 at 16:59
  • Does "3" usually work the best? @snailboat
    – Tim
    Dec 20, 2013 at 18:14
  • I don't know, I've never tried before.
    – user230
    Dec 20, 2013 at 18:34

2 Answers 2


More accurately (and I had to look this up) the OP is actually asking about "heterographs": words that sound alike but have different spellings and meanings. Homophones may be either heterographs or heteronyms (words that have the same spelling and different meanings, and may or may not have the same pronunciation, e. g. desert/desert). Examples that native speakers frequently get wrong are principle and principal, affect and effect, discrete and discreet, and even too and to and its and it's. For a long list of these, see http://www.spellingsociety.org/journals/j4/heterografs2.php . (Personally, I don't think that a dictionary will help much in identifying these; there are too many words that are not such to make the search easy.)


Closely spelled words could be deemed as being "homophones." A homophone is a word which sounds similar to another word, but which may have a different meaning. Any dictionary is a good source for those.

"Grotesque" would be difficult as it is a word of French origin and would have no "similar" words to it in the English language.


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