by Mavis Reimer
The word home comes into English through the Teutonic languages of northern Europe, carrying with it the multiple meanings of “world,” “village,” “homestead,” “dwelling,” and “safe dwelling,” as well as indicating a direction, as it continues to do in a phrase such as go home. The primary meaning in contemporary usages of the word is “the seat of domestic life and interests” (OED). In this sense, the word is close to the Latin domus, from which the adjective domestic is derived. As well as referring to a building or place, however, home simultaneously refers to the quality of feelings associated with that place so that home is, as the OED notes, “the place of one’s dwelling or nurturing,” which can include members of a family or household, “with the conditions, circumstances, and feelings which naturally and properly attach to it.” But home can also designate the local (home team), an institution (children’s home), a nation (homeland), or the origin and destination of play in games (home base). Not surprisingly, then, it is identified as one of the one thousand most commonly used words in the online version of Collins Dictionary.