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Definitions of "Home"

family eating dinner at homeReading Note: The Oxford English Dictionary is a wonderful resource, though it is not a dictionary you would necessarily use when you want to know the spelling of a word, or when you need quick definitions while doing a crossword puzzle or playing Scrabble. The OED is many volumes, and you need a magnifying glass to read the text. One would go to the Oxford English Dictionary for the "etymology," or origin and historical development, of the language, for by examining the origin of words we use, we learn about the depth of meaning such words still carry with them. The definitions of "home" listed below are from the Oxford English dictionary. These entries show both how the meaning of home has evolved over time, and also how it has stayed much the same, in spite of how we have changed as a society, and the changing appearance of our homes themselves.

home (the OED presents many different definitions for the word "home." 1, 2, 3, and 11 are provided below with examples of word usage over time)

1. (a) a village or town, a collection of dwellings; a village with its cottages, (b) an estate, a possession

2. a dwelling-place house, abode, the fixed residence of a family or household; the seat of domestic life and interests; one's own house; the dwelling in which one habitually lives, or which one regards as one's proper abode. Sometimes including the members of a family collectively; the home-circle or household. In N. America and Australasia (and increasingly elsewhere).

      Usage (1175 - 1973):

  • "Riche men . . e habbe feire huses and feire hames," Lamb, c. 1175.
  • "That attachment which every man naturally feels for his home," Macaulay, History of England, 1849.
  • "He returned to the home which, almost alone among princely homes, suplied a model for lowlier homes to follow," Freeman, Norman Conquest, 1871.
  • "A lovely drive . . . is bordered with homes, many of which make pretensions to much more than comfort. M. J. Lamb, "The Homes of America," Harpers Magazine, 1882.
  • "Sacred and happy homes . . . are the surest guarantees for the moral progress of a nation," H. Drummond, Ascent of Man, 1894.
  • "Wilson wounded Elliott and his wife in a dispute Wednesday at the Elliott home in Mendota," San Antonio, Texas Light, 1930.
  • "Motorway schemes . . . often wipe out considerable numbers of reasonable homes in accessible areas," Guardian, 1973.

3. the place of one's dwelling or nurturing, with the conditions, circumstances, and feelings which naturally and properly attach to it, and are associated with it. a home away from home, a place away from home which provides home-like accommodation or amenities.

      Usage (1460 - 1961)

  • "In euery place he shall haue hame," Towneley, 1460.
  • "Oh! What can sanctify the joys of home?" Byron, Corsair III, 1813.
  • ""Home, Sweet Home, Be it ever so humble, there's no place like home," J. H. Payne, song, 1822.
  • "The delicatessen that is the foreigners' home-away-from-home," Beadle, These Ruins are Inhabited, 1961.

11. at one's ease, as if in one's own home; in one's element. Hence, unconstrained, unembarrassed; familiar or conversant with, well versed in.

      Usage (1809 - 1886)

  • "Supposing you are now at home enough on horseback," G. Gambado, 1809.
  • "Pray make yourselves at home, gentlemen," W. Gordon, Dearest Mamma, 1860.
  • "More at home on the hills than in the counting house," Ruskin, Praeterita, 1886.