A grammar lesson for me-Homonyms

Yesterday Indira’s class did a lesson in French about homonyms – a class of words that are pronounced the same way but are often spelled differently. So when I coincidentally came across two such words this evening,  I was sort of chuffed that I now knew the right term for this !

The title of an article  about Sarah Palin in a blog on TIME magazine’s website  includes the phrase “…Outrage or Just Deserts?”

It seemed to me that something looked wrong there and when I read the comments, posted in response to the article, I thought another more observant reader had  caught the mistake – a small error in spelling. This person wrote to  point out that the word desert is missing an s and in fact I have always assumed too that this phrase uses the word “desserts”, since the meaning of the phrase makes the latter seem the logical choice.

Turns out , as the writer explained in his response, that in fact the correct usage is as in the article’s title.

Apparently, the word desert has a secondary meaning – “that which is deserved” (the root of the word is the Latin deservire, which is also the root of the word “deserve”) as discussed in the following links:

http://www.phrases.org.uk/meanings/just-deserts.html

http://www.wisegeek.com/what-does-just-deserts-mean.htm

http://en.wiktionary.org/wiki/just_deserts

Homonyms include all sorts of sub-categories and the desert-dessert pair may belong to either homophones or heterographs, I haven’t been able to figure out which one, from this Wikipedia page link here

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