Online College Courses for Credit

Common Words with Multiple Meanings
Common Core: 7.L.4 8.L.4 9-10.L.4 11-12.L.4

Common Words with Multiple Meanings

Author: Sydney Bauer

This lesson introduces common words with multiple meanings.

See More
Fast, Free College Credit

Developing Effective Teams

Let's Ride
*No strings attached. This college course is 100% free and is worth 1 semester credit.

37 Sophia partners guarantee credit transfer.

299 Institutions have accepted or given pre-approval for credit transfer.

* The American Council on Education's College Credit Recommendation Service (ACE Credit®) has evaluated and recommended college credit for 33 of Sophia’s online courses. Many different colleges and universities consider ACE CREDIT recommendations in determining the applicability to their course and degree programs.


Most words have multiple meanings, or definitions. Sometimes those meanings are similar, but most of the time, the multiple meanings of a word are very different from each other.

Some words have different meanings for the different functions, or parts of speech: verb, noun, adverb, or adjective. Some words refer to several different nouns, verbs, etc, which is why it is important to be careful when looking up vocabulary words in the dictionary.
I’ve gathered a short list of words that most students are familiar with as examples of common words with multiple meanings. I labeled each meaning with the part of speech the word functions as.
  1. particular place of work or action (This is our base of operations)
  2. lowest point, edge of something (People began to gather at the base of the structure long before anyone decided to climb it)
  3. root or stem of a word (the base form of the word broken is break)
  4. the objects that designate the path a batter must run after hitting the ball (first, second, and third base)
  1. foundation (My decision is based on the fact that it’s raining outside!)
  2. center of an action
  1. of a tone or note (She has a hard time singing at such a high pitch!)  
  2. steepness of a roof
  3. level of intensity (fever pitch)
  4. delivery of a ball (That was a lousy pitch.)
  5. the spiel, or mini-speech used when trying to persuade someone to do something (Don’t give me that old sales pitch again!)
  1. to throw or fling something—literally or figuratively, roughly or casually (to pitch a ball, tent, fit)
  2. fall heavily (She pitched forward down the hill!)
  1. secret plan (The terrorist plot was thwarted.)
  2. main events (as devised and organized by the author) of a play or piece of writing (
  3. small piece of land set aside for something (That plot of land over there is a community garden.)
  4. a graph
  1. to make secret plans (I caught them plotting against the superintendent!)
  2. to devise sequencing of events (We began to plot out a timeline for the events.)
  3. to mark on chart (I plotted the data on this graph.)
  1. in attendance (At the present moment, I don’t have the resources.)
  2. existing or occurring now (present tense)
  1. the present (here and now, this moment)
  2. a gift (Herman likes to open his birthday presents after the guests leave.)
  1. to give (to present something to someone: She presented the first place winner with a trophy.)
  2. to show (I presented my badge to the doorman, but he was not impressed.)
  3. to give a presentation (Gabby presented her findings to the board of trustees.)
  1. distinction in verb form to express time and duration (verb tense)
  1. stretched tight, rigid, (muscles)
  2. unable to relax, showing nervous tension (Why do you look so tense?)
  3. marked by strain or suspense
  1. to make rigid or tight
  2. to tighten
  1. worth or denomination of something (like a coin)
  2. worth compared to price (Don’t throw out that teddy bear! It has sentimental value.)
  3. principles/beliefs/standards (family values, personal values)
  4. a magnitude/quantity/number (for example, a math question might ask “what is the value of X?”)
  1. considered to be important (He is a valued costumer!)
  1. to cherish or respect (I value our time together. I value your opinion.)
  2. to estimate/assign monetary value (Her estate is valued at…)



Source: Definitions from Merriam-Webster's Collegiate Dictionary

Common Words with Multiple Meanings