English can be confusing at times! Just take the way some words are pronounced (nothing like how they are spelled) and all of the different prepositions. Not to mention idioms and phrasal verbs! No wonder English learners—and even native English speakers—get confused! Today, we are going to look at something else that can cause some confusion: heteronyms. I’ll explain the difference between two in particular: wind vs. wind. Is it windy or windy out?

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Wind vs. Wind: Explaining Tricky English Heteronyms

First things first…

What is a heteronym?

Heteronyms are words that are spelled exactly the same but their meaning AND pronunciation are different. They can be difficult because if you pronounce the word incorrectly it can change the whole meaning of a sentence.

Some examples of heteronyms are:

  1. Present (to give or show something) and present (a gift)
  2. Lead (used to walk dogs) and lead (metal element)
  3. Content (information, pictures, or videos, e.g. social media content) and content (to be happy or satisfied)


In this article, we will focus on the heteronyms wind vs. wind.


  1. Wind (ˈwɪnd)

Click play to listen to this word pronounced:

To avoid confusion, I have added the IPA transcription to help you understand how to pronounce each word. If you are not familiar with the IPA (International Phonetic Alphabet), read this article for more information about how to use it.

Here, we use the short “i” sound, like in “bin” or “swim.”

When pronounced in this way, wind is a noun, referring to a type of weather: a rush of air or air current. It can also be made into an adjective: windy.

For example,

“It is very windy today.”

“The wind blew over the shop sign.”

When pronounced like this, “wind” can have some other meanings, too.

For instance, we have the expression: “to get wind of something.” This means to hear a rumor about something or find something out about someone.

For example,

“If my mom gets wind of the fact that I’ve been skipping school, I’ll be in so much trouble.”

“I don’t want my manager to get wind of the fact that I’m applying for other jobs.”

We can also say that someone is “winded,” meaning you are out of breath or unable to breathe for a short moment of time. This might happen if someone hits you in the stomach, or if you are performing difficult physical exercise.


So, what does the other wind mean?

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  1. Wind (ˈwaɪnd)

Click play to listen to this word pronounced:

We pronounce this one with the long “i” sound, like in “kind” or “dined.”

This is a verb that means to twist something, for example, a watch or a handle of a device. The past form of wind is wound.

For example,

“I need to wind my watch back as it is one hour too late.”

“Can you wind the handle to open the window please?”

We can also use “wind” with the long “i” sound in a common English idiom: to wind (someone) up. If you wind someone up, or if someone or something winds you up, you annoy someone (or they/it annoys you).

For example,

“That song on the radio is winding me up. I have heard it too many times!” (Translation: The song is annoying me.)

“He wound her up yesterday because he wasn’t listening to what she was saying.”

When pronounced this way, “windy” means with lots of curves, such as a windy road.


Hear These Heteronyms Pronounced

I hope this quick article was useful and that you now know the difference between wind and wind.

Remember, it is important not to mix these up as if you pronounce them incorrectly the word has a completely different meaning! (However, if you do make a mistake, the person you’re talking to will probably be able to figure out what you intended based on context, so don’t stress too much!)

If you’d like to have more practice with these words, you can like this video about them or save it to an English language learning playlist on YouTube.

Don’t forget to subscribe to our YouTube channel to see more videos and tips about English and other languages.

Thanks for reading and happy learning!