The Meaning of Home, by John Berger

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A highly regarded art critic, novelist, poet, essayist, and screenwriter, John Berger began his career as a painter in London. Among his best-known works are Ways of Seeing (1972), a series of essays about the power of visual images, and G. (also 1972), an experimental novel which was awarded both the Booker Prize and the James Tait Black Memorial Prize for fiction .

In this passage from And Our Faces, My Heart, Brief as Photos (1984), Berger draws on the writings of Mircea Eliade, a Romanian-born historian of religion, to offer an extended definition of home .

The Meaning of Home

by John Berger

The term home (Old Norse Heimer , High German heim , Greek komi , meaning "village") has, since a long time, been taken over by two kinds of moralists, both dear to those who wield power. The notion of home became the keystone for a code of domestic morality, safeguarding the property (which included the women) of the family. Simultaneously the notion of homeland supplied the first article of faith for patriotism, persuading men to die in wars which often served no other interest except that of a minority of their ruling class. Both usages have hidden the original meaning.

Originally home meant the center of the world—not in a geographical, but in an ontological sense. Mircea Eliade has demonstrated how the home was the place from which the world could be founded . A home was established, as he says, "at the heart of the real." In traditional societies, everything that made sense of the world was real; the surrounding chaos existed and was threatening, but it was threatening because it was unreal . Without a home at the center of the real, one was not only shelterless but also lost in nonbeing, in unreality. Without a home everything was fragmentation.​

Home was the center of the world because it was the place where a vertical line crossed with a horizontal one. The vertical line was a path leading upwards to the sky and downwards to the underworld. The horizontal line represented the traffic of the world, all the possible roads leading across the earth to other places. Thus, at home, one was nearest to the gods in the sky and to the dead of the underworld. This nearness promised access to both. And at the same time, one was at the starting point and, hopefully, the returning point of all terrestrial journeys. *  Originally published in  And Our Faces, My Heart, Brief as Photos , by John Berger (Pantheon Books, 1984).

Selected Works by John Berger

  • A Painter of Our Time , novel (1958)
  • Permanent Red: Essays in Seeing , essays (1962)
  • The Look of Things , essays (1972)
  • Ways of Seeing , essays (1972)
  • G. , novel (1972)
  • Jonah Who Will Be 25 in the Year 2000 , screenplay (1976)
  • Pig Earth , novel (1979)
  • The Sense of Sight , essays (1985)
  • Once in Europe , novel (1987)
  • Keeping a Rendezvous , essays (1991)
  • To the Wedding , novel (1995)
  • Photocopies , essays (1996)
  • Hold Everything Dear: Dispatches on Survival and Resistance , essays (2007)
  • From A to X , novel (2008)
  • Learn How to Use Extended Definitions in Essays and Speeches
  • The Ancient Greek Underworld and Hades
  • The Underworld Adventure of Aeneas in The Aeneid
  • How Many Trips Hercules Made to the Underworld
  • Identify the Coordinates Worksheets
  • Logos (Rhetoric)
  • Make a Histogram in 7 Simple Steps
  • A Biography of the Greek God Hades
  • Formula for the Normal Distribution or Bell Curve
  • Slope Formula to Find Rise over Run
  • The Odyssey Book IX - Nekuia, in Which Odysseus Speaks to Ghosts
  • Painterly Places: A Look at the Homes of Artists
  • Understand the Economic Concept of a Budget Line
  • Skyscraper Photos of Historic Buildings

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Essays About Home: Top 5 Examples and 7 Writing Prompts

Writing essays about home depicts familial encounters that influence our identity. Discover our guide with examples and prompts to assist you with your next essay.

The literal meaning of home is a place where you live. It’s also called a domicile where people permanently reside, but today, people have different definitions for it. A home is where we most feel comfortable. It’s a haven, a refuge that provides security and protects us without judgment. 

Parents or guardians do their best to make a home for their children. They strive to offer their kids a stable environment so they can grow into wonderful adults. Dissecting what a home needs to ensure a family member feels safe is a vital part of writing essays about home.

5 Essay Examples

1. the unique feeling of home by anonymous on ivypanda.com, 2. where i call home by anonymous on gradesfixer.com, 3. a place i call home by anonymous on toppr.com, 4. the meaning of home by anonymous on ivypanda.com, 5. what makes a house a home for me by anonymous on gradesfixer.com, 1. true meaning of home, 2. the difference between a home and a house, 3. homes and emotions, 4. making our house feel like home, 6. home as a vital part of our lives, 7. a home for a kid.

“Nowadays, as I moved out, the place feels alien since I spend the whole time in the house during my visits to my parents. They treat me like a guest in their home – in a good sense; they try to be attentive to me and induce dialogue since I stay there for a short time, and they want to extract the maximum of their need for interaction with me.”

In this essay, a visit to the author’s parents’ house made them realize the many things they missed. They also can’t help but compare it to their current home. The writer states family conflict as the reason for their moving out and realizes how fast they adapted to their new environment. 

Returning to their childhood home brings out mixed emotions as they ponder over the lasting influence of their past on their present personality. The author recognizes the importance of the experiences they carry wherever they go. In the end, the writer says that a home is anywhere they can belong to themselves and interact with those they hold dear. You might be interested in these essays about city life .

“The noteworthy places where I lived are the places I have made my home: where I can walk around with a birds’ nest on my head and a pair of old sweatpants in the middle of summer, where I can strip myself bear of superficial emotions…”

The essay starts with vivid descriptions of the author’s home, letting the reader feel like they are in the same place as the narrator. The author also considers their grandmother’s and friend’s houses his home and shares why they feel this way. 

“My home is important to me because for better or worse, it helps me belong. It makes me understand my place in time and connect with the world and the universe at large. Thus, I am grateful to have a place I can call home.”

In this essay, the author is straightforward in sharing the features of their home life, including where their house is located, who lives in it, and other specific details that make it a home. It’s an ancestral home with vintage furniture that stands strong despite age. 

The writer boasts of their unrestricted use of the rooms and how they love every part of it. However, their best memories are linked to the house’s terrace, where their family frequently spends time together.

Looking for more? Check out these essays about dream house .

“Home is a word that means a lot in the life of every person. For some, this is a place to come after hard work to relax and feel comfortable. For others, this is a kind of intermediate point from which they can set off towards adventure.”

A home is where a person spends most of their life, but in this essay, the writer explains that the definition varies per an individual’s outlook. Thus, the piece incorporates various definitions and concepts from other writers. One of them is Veronica Greenwood , who associates homes with a steaming bowl of ramen because both provide warmth, comfort, and tranquility. The author concludes by recognizing individuals’ ever-changing feelings and emotions and how these changes affect their perception of the concept of a home.

“It is where the soul is…  what makes my house a home is walking through the front door on a Friday evening after praying Zuhr prayer in the masjid and coming back to the aroma of freshly cooked delicious biryani in the kitchen because my mom knows it’s my favorite meal.”

This essay reflects on the factors that shape a house to become a home. These factors include providing security, happiness, and comfort. The author explains that routine household activities such as cooking at home, watching children, and playing games significantly contribute to how a home is created. In the end, the writer says that a house becomes a home when you produce special memories with the people you love.

7 Prompts for Essays About Home

Essays About Home: True meaning of home

The definition of a home varies depending on one’s perspective. Use this prompt to discuss what the word “home” means to you. Perhaps home is filled with memories, sentimental items, or cozy decor, or maybe home is simply where your family is. Write a personal essay with your experiences and add the fond memories you have with your family home.

Check out our guide on how to write a personal essay .

Home and house are two different terms with deeper meanings. However, they are used interchangeably in verbal and written communication. A house is defined as a structure existing in the physical sense. Meanwhile, a home is where people feel like they belong and are free to be themselves.

In your essay, compare and contrast these words and discuss if they have the same meaning or not. Add some fun to your writing by interviewing people to gather opinions on the difference between these two words.

The emotions that we associate with our home can be influenced by our upbringing. In this essay, discuss how your childhood shaped how you view your home and include the reasons why. Split this essay into sections, each new section describing a different memory in your house. Make sure to include personal experiences and examples to support your feelings.

For example, if you grew up in a home that you associate positive memories with, you will have a happy and peaceful association with your home. However, if your upbringing had many challenging and stressful times, you may have negative emotions tied to the home.

The people inside our home play a significant role in how a house becomes a home. Parents, siblings, and pets are only some of those that influence a home. In this prompt, write about the items in your home, the people, and the activities that have made your house a home.

Describe your home in detail to make the readers understand your home life. Talk about the physical characteristics of your house, what the people you live with make you feel, and what you look forward to every time you visit your home. You can also compare it to your current home. For example, you can focus your essay on the differences between your childhood home and the place you moved in to start your independent life.

Home is the one place we always go back to; even if we visit other places, our home is waiting for our return. In this prompt, provide relevant statistics about how much time a person spends at home and ensure to consider relevant factors such as their profession and age group. Using these statistics, explain the importance of a home to the general population, including the indications of homelessness.

Essays About Home: A home for a kid

There are 135,000 children adopted in the US each year. These children become orphans for various reasons and are adopted by their guardians to support and guide them through life. For this prompt, find statistics showing the number of unaccompanied and homeless children.

Then, write down the government programs and organizations that aim to help these kids. In the later part of your essay, you can discuss tips on how a foster family can make their foster kids feel at home. For help picking your next essay topic, check out our 20 engaging essay topics about family .

meaning of home essay

Maria Caballero is a freelance writer who has been writing since high school. She believes that to be a writer doesn't only refer to excellent syntax and semantics but also knowing how to weave words together to communicate to any reader effectively.

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The Definition of Home

Be it ever so humble, it’s more than just a place. It’s also an idea—one where the heart is

Verlyn Klinkenborg

meaning of home essay

When did “home” become embedded in human consciousness? Is our sense of home instinctive? Are we denning animals or nest builders, or are we, at root, nomadic? For much of the earliest history of our species, home may have been nothing more than a small fire and the light it cast on a few familiar faces, surrounded perhaps by the ancient city-mounds of termites. But whatever else home is—and however it entered our consciousness—it’s a way of organizing space in our minds. Home is home, and everything else is not-home. That’s the way the world is constructed.

Not that you can’t feel “at home” in other places. But there’s a big psychological difference between feeling at home and being home. Feeling at home on the Tiwi Islands or in Bangalore or Vancouver (if you are not native) is simply a way of saying that the not-home-ness of those places has diminished since you first arrived. Some people, as they move through their lives, rediscover home again and again. Some people never find another after once leaving home. And, of course, some people never leave the one home they’ve always known. In America, we don’t know quite what to say about those people.

Homesick children know how sharp the boundary between home and not-home can be because they suffer from the difference, as if it were a psychological thermocline. I know because I was one of them. I felt a deep kinship almost everywhere in the small Iowa town I grew up in. But spending the night away from home, at a sleepover with friends, made every street, every house seem alien. And yet there was no rejoicing when I got back home in the morning. Home was as usual. That was the point—home is a place so profoundly familiar you don’t even have to notice it. It’s everywhere else that takes noticing.

In humans, the idea of home almost completely displaces the idea of habitat. It’s easy to grasp the fact that a vireo’s nest is not the same as her habitat and that her habitat is her true home. The nest is a temporary annual site for breeding, useful only as long as there are young to raise. But we are such generalists—able to live in so many places—that “habitat,” when applied to humans, is nearly always a metaphor. To say, “My home is my habitat” is true and untrue at the same time.

Yet our psychological habitat is shaped by what you might call the magnetic property of home, the way it aligns everything around us. Perhaps you remember a moment, coming home from a trip, when the house you call home looked, for a moment, like just another house on a street full of houses. For a fraction of a second, you could see your home as a stranger might see it. But then the illusion faded and your house became home again. That, I think, is one of the most basic meanings of home—a place we can never see with a stranger’s eyes for more than a moment.

And there’s something more. When my father died, my brothers and sisters and I went back to his house, where he’d lived alone. It wasn’t only his absence we felt. It was as though something had vanished from every object in the house. They had, in fact, become merely objects. The person whose heart and mind could bind them into a single thing—a home—had gone.

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Kristen stewart embraces androgyny in bold rolling stone cover shoot – explore style essay topics, most written responses on staar exams will be graded by a computer, quizrise review: ace tests with ai, what is a home essay definition examples.

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Lesley J. Vos

The given prompt: Is it a physical space, a feeling, or something entirely different?

When we think of the word “home,” it often evokes an image of a physical dwelling, with walls, a roof, and a comforting familiarity. However, delve a little deeper, and it becomes evident that the concept of home transcends bricks and mortar. In a world where people move, travel, and constantly adapt, the definition of home has beautifully morphed and expanded.

At its most basic level, yes, a home is a tangible space. It’s where one resides, keeps personal belongings, and returns to after a day’s work or travel. This physical space offers shelter, protection, and often a sense of ownership. It’s where meals are shared, memories are made, and seasons are witnessed. For many, the attachment to this space is profound, rooted in a sense of stability and permanence.

However, for others, especially those who have journeyed across cities, countries, or continents, home isn’t just a fixed address. It’s a feeling, an emotion that arises in spaces other than their birthplace or original dwelling. For a student studying abroad, home might be the dormitory where friendships are forged. For a traveler, it might be the camp under the starry sky or the cozy hostel room in a distant land. The emotion of home travels, adapts, and nestles in varied spaces.

Beyond the physical and emotional realms, home often takes on symbolic meanings. It can represent one’s roots, culture, or heritage. For an immigrant, home might be the melodies of native songs, the flavors of traditional recipes, or the stories passed down generations. Even miles away from their birth land, these cultural anchors offer a bridge, connecting them to the essence of home.

There’s also an introspective dimension to home. It’s the sanctuary within, the inner realm where one’s true self resides. In moments of solitude or reflection, individuals often retreat to this inner home, seeking solace, clarity, or simply a break from the external world’s cacophony. This internal sanctuary is as vital as any external dwelling, offering a space for rest, rejuvenation, and introspection.

Interestingly, relationships too can be homes. The embrace of a loved one, the understanding gaze of a friend, or the playful nudge of a pet – in these interactions, many find the warmth and comfort typically associated with home. Here, home is not bound by walls but by bonds of love, care, and understanding.

In today’s dynamic world, where change seems to be the only constant, the concept of home is both grounding and liberating. Grounding, because it offers a sense of belonging, and liberating, because it’s no longer confined to a singular space or definition.

In conclusion, home, in its rich, multifaceted glory, is a mosaic of spaces, feelings, memories, and relationships. Whether it’s the house at the end of the street, the aroma of a childhood dish, the memories of a cherished place, or the quiet space within, home is where the heart finds its anchor. And in this heart-space, whether tangible or intangible, lies the essence of comfort, belonging, and love.

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  • Relationships

The Meaning of "Home"

Four approaches to studying "home" show how home affects our experiences..

Posted November 4, 2021 | Reviewed by Michelle Quirk

  • “Home” researchers might study environmental psychology, memory and attachment theory, a hierarchy of needs, and identity.
  • Resources guide us toward different ways of thinking about, understanding, and developing notions of “home.”
  • "Home" and "family" are not necessarily synonymous; nor are they always "happy".

Geralt/Pixabay

When you ask yourself, “What does home mean to me?," how does your inner voice respond? Has your answer to the question changed as your life and circumstances have changed? Mine certainly has, as I recently described in an essay on my personal blog, "Love Is Real."

I wonder how many people remember learning to read and to print and then endlessly writing out their name, street address, town or city, state, perhaps a zip code (those did not exist when I was a child), country, continent, and then maybe “World,” possibly followed by “Universe.” What is this urge to situate ourselves in space, in a geographic location, especially one centered around our earliest memories of where we lived?

Four ways of looking at these questions ask if “home” is defined by the following:

  • Environmental cues and their impact on our perception, cognition , emotions, behaviors, and relationships.
  • A hierarchy of needs and the context in which the most basic of them are met.
  • Emotional memories and fantasies along with their impact, including memory -driven attachment scripts that a person wants to implement or avoid.
  • Our sense of identity and belonging, extending to and beyond group memberships.

But, first, before we dive into the topic, a caveat. In the spring of 1986 or 1987, the Whitney Museum of American Art branch in the Champion building in Stamford, Connecticut, offered the public a gripping look into the dark side of “home.” Noting that much media and many people associate home with positive experiences — often idealized ones — the curators chose to acknowledge that the reality often fails to match a desire or wish. Artists depicted homes plagued by violence, addiction , exploitation, chaos, and ill will.

These are the dwellings that easily produce traumatized children and eventually adults, those studied in Adverse Childhood Experiences research , who are at risk for developmental disruptions as well as emotional, cognitive, physical, and relationship problems. The consequences are tragic and many — see the list of resources curated by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention . “Home” is not necessarily a synonym for “happy place.”

4 Perspectives on Home

1. Environmental psychology . Research on person–environment relationships can include the study of spaces where people dwell. Environmental psychologists have documented qualities to which homes expose people, like noise levels, toxins, emotional climates, crowding (or its absence), and their impact on all aspects of experience, from the personal (biological, cognitive, emotional, behavioral) to the social. Organizational psychologists often use or adapt these methods and the literature to maximize an organization’s goals . Another branch, architectural psychology, focuses on the impact of design to amplify positive or minimize negative impact. Applications range from single-person dwellings to community institutions, from a treehouse to a hospital.

Around the world, when the COVID-19 pandemic began, people became interested in homes in new ways. They sought housing opportunities that would provide more inside space and greater access to the outdoors. Alternately, isolated living “pods” popped up, housing university students banished from their dorm, families educating small children, people yearning to be in a situation that included a “safe” community.

2. A hierarchy of needs. Maslow’s hierarchy of needs comes to mind as we examine what people who moved during the pandemic were searching for: greater attention to meeting survival needs for shelter, nutrition , hygiene, safety, work and play, and interpersonal needs for contact, communication, companionship, and belonging.

When social interaction changed dramatically during the COVID-19 pandemic, external sources of

JillWellington/Pixabay

spiritual and cultural nourishment decreased, and countless people, rather than searching for an alternative living arrangement like a different residence or a pod, turned their attention to their current homes, what they might potentially provide, and what they required in maintenance. Countless practical modifications were put in place. They expanded exponentially as the number of people in a living space grew. “Family” definitions broadened to include those related by blood, marriage , or choice, with “home” embracing those who lived together and intended to continue living together following the crisis, at least according to the American Red Cross.

3. Attachment and memory . A broader definition of “family” makes room for another aspect of “home,” that which sees home as the center for forging and nourishing human attachment bonds. "Home" includes primary locations where early memories and their emotions result in attachment scripts and their consequences. A sense of belonging securely or less so persists into adulthood or until changes in unconscious expectations make room for revised understanding. 1

meaning of home essay

Two more caveats: “Family” and “home” can be separate as well as associated, and they can be temporary. Long-distance relationships are currently flourishing; those in them dwell apart. And, as mentioned above, “family” can refer to people who live together by choice and are not related by legal or blood bonds, at least for many purposes. Therefore, attachment-oriented researchers often focus on the symbiotic relationships of those who cohabit by choice.

In contrast, scholars who study migration more broadly emphasize the “push” away from a current residence and “pull” toward a new one. Attachment to either "homeland" can be weak or fierce. Along these lines, researchers might investigate places in which basic cultural beliefs are imprinted along with the geography of the location. 2 In both cases, culture and a sense of belonging (or not) are absorbed systemically and often unconsciously, as suggested by Bronfenbrenner's theory of ecological development.

4. Identity and possible selves. From a personality perspective, we craft an identity from internal

12189/Pixabay

experiences like temperament, needs, and desires, as well as through our relationships with others and with the larger social and cultural systems in which we are embedded. Our own imagination creates what Hazel Markus has labeled “ possible selves ,” imagery of who we might become. From this perspective, “home” is one context in which such creation can take place. It can become an expression of personal choices and aspirations as well as history.

In a different approach, family process psychologists often talk about ways in which people use or construct boundaries , connections, and communications. Space is both material and metaphor. It represents how a small group of related individuals expresses values and their implementation.

What has “home” been for you? Has its meaning changed during your adult life?

2021 Copyright Roni Beth Tower

1. Simpson, J. A. & Rholes, W. S. (Eds.) (1998). Attachment Theory and Close Relationships . New York: Guilford Press.

2. Tuan, Yi-Fu (1977). Space and Place. Minneapolis and London: University of Minnesota Press.

Roni Beth Tower Ph.D., ABPP

Roni Beth Tower, PhD, a retired clinical, research and academic psychologist, earned a BA from Barnard (Religion), her PhD from Yale, and did postdoctoral work in epidemiology and public health at Yale Medical School.

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What is the meaning of home? Hint: It’s not just a place.

Tuesday, November 17, 2020

Family sitting in living room talking | Schlage

We have spent an unprecedented amount of time sheltering in place this year, which makes us wonder: What is the true meaning of home? Keep reading to hear from people from all walks of life.

If you’re reading this, you probably have a home as defined by Merriam-Webster Dictionary – one’s place of residence; domicile; house. But there’s another kind of home, the one we at Schlage spend a lot of time helping you achieve. It’s the intangible feeling you get in a location, a sense of peace, joy from loved ones or an environment where everyone knows they’re welcome. “Home” isn’t easy to define, but you know when you’re there.

We have spent an unprecedented amount of time sheltering in place this year, which makes us wonder: What is the true meaning of home? Keep reading to hear from people from all walks of life – sages, celebrities and everyday people – on what home means to them.

Family sitting in living room talking.

Where we find comfort and safety

Feeling secure at home often goes beyond just having good deadbolts. It’s where we retreat when times are tough and where we depend on family and the familiar to restore our sense of peace.

“Home is where the heart can laugh without shyness. Home is where the heart’s tears can dry at their own pace.” – Vernon Baker , First Lieutenant in U.S. Army who earned the Purple Heart, Bronze Star and Distinguished Service Cross and is the only living Black WWII veteran to earn the Medal of Honor

“Home to me is where I feel safe, secure, loved and accepted. It's a place I don't have to define my strengths or explain my responses. Home is where I can be me 24/7, where I can be the champion or be insecure and still be cherished. Home to me is a place of refuge. Home is happy and full of laughter. Home is a place where the hugs abound and peace is found.” – Victoria Cowen, Corporate Compliance Manager at Allegion (parent company of Schlage)

“Home is the place where I go to feel safe and comfortable. If something negative happens, where do I retreat and regroup? It's not even my entire house, it is specifically my living room, kitchen, and bedroom; that is my 'home.' (The garage, bathrooms, den, and office don't feel like part of my home, they are just other places that happen to be adjacent to my home.) And if my house were to burn down, my home would be the next place in line that I go to in order to be safe: my bedroom in my childhood/parents' house.” – Matthew Stonebraker, Senior Mechanical Engineer at Allegion

“Home isn’t where you’re from, it’s where you find light when all grows dark.” – Pierce Brown, science fiction author

Dad dancing in living room with his two kids.

Where we are always welcome

No matter where life takes us, many of us see home as the place where we are always wanted. It is where we can be true to ourselves and others.

“I want my home to be that kind of place–a place of sustenance, a place of invitation, a place of welcome.” – Mary DeMuth, author and speaker

“I think that when you invite people to your home, you invite them to yourself.” – Oprah Winfrey

“May you always have walls for the winds, a roof for the rain, tea beside the fire, laughter to cheer you, those you love near you and all your heart may desire. May joy and peace surround you, contentment latch your door, and happiness be with you now and bless you evermore.” – Irish proverb

Mom holding sleeping baby on her chest.

Where we put down our roots

Home is not static. It could be where we grew up, but it can just as easily be where we feel settled and begin a new life full of possibilities.

“Our homes are more than financial assets. They have deep emotional meaning. For those of us fortunate enough to have grown up in houses owned by our parents, they were the backdrop for our childhood memories — the places we played and argued and hung our artwork and marked the door jamb with pencil lines as we grew taller.” – Dr. Keith Ablow, Psych Central

“[T]here’s a big psychological difference between feeling at home and being home. Feeling at home on the Tiwi Islands or in Bangalore or Vancouver (if you are not native) is simply a way of saying that the not-home-ness of those places has diminished since you first arrived. Some people, as they move through their lives, rediscover home again and again. Some people never find another after once leaving home. And, of course, some people never leave the one home they’ve always known.” – Verlyn Klinkenborg, Smithsonian Magazine

“I think the house shows that I have true faith in myself to take on this task when I was just 27 and see it through … I also think the house says that I will forever remain solid in the place I was born.” – Rapper Drake in Architectural Digest talking about his 50,000-square-foot mansion in his hometown of Toronto

“For me, home is my physical space, yes. A place I feel comfortable and safe. My retreat. ‘Home’ is also where I've planted roots. It's my friends and my community. Fun fact, in my 41 years on Earth, I haven't lived anywhere as long as I've lived in Fishers (a suburb of Indianapolis), and in this particular house where we live. So, I would say, Fishers is my ‘home’ now. We have talked about moving but I would have a really hard time leaving.” – Lauren Young, HR Global Compensation Manager at Allegion

“Home is the place where, when you have to go there, they have to take you in.” – Robert Frost, author

Boy with superhero cape flying over stuffed animals on couch.

Where our dreams become reality

When we are safe at home, we are free to imagine the possibilities that lay ahead. It is where our future begins.

“Just like memories, home is also where your hopes and dreams are. Dreaming about when you grow up. Being a spaceman or a firefighter. Sinking beneath the sea as a scuba diver. I couldn’t imagine living without dreams. My home grounds them, and without a home, I wouldn’t have any.” – Wynn, Fifth grade. Read his full essay for Habitat for Humanity Canada

“Home means a future. Once we had a stable home, we could think beyond where we were going to live from week to week, and we could begin to look ahead to where we wanted to go. Home is the base where everything begins.” — Kelly for Habitat for Humanity

“Yes, your home is your castle, but it is also your identity and your possibility to be open to others.” – David Soul, actor

What does home mean to you? Share with us on Facebook , Twitter or Instagram .

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meaning of home essay

Home is more than a place. It’s a cultural concept, an ideal, a kind of loyalty. With millions of people stuck in their homes, lockdown has changed the meaning and the experience of “home”.

Why the meaning of home has changed (now that we can’t leave the house)

All images in this article come from the series Living Room, San Francisco by Jana Sophia Nolle. Underneath the article you can read more about this project.

On a Sunday evening in March, the Dutch prime minister told us to “stay at home”, and from that moment on, it has seemed like home is all there is.

My daughter’s teacher sends advice for homeschooling our children. My partner crams a tiny desk between our bed and the wall, creating a makeshift home office. Every day, the newspaper publishes new lists of films to watch, books to read, and museum exhibits to visit online – all while sheltering in place, at home. A giant poster ad appears next to the bus stop on our street, featuring a slight tweak to the lyrics from a popular Dutch song : ‘Sing, fight, cry, pray, laugh, work ( from home) and admire.’

“Blijf thuis,” our prime minister repeats in his umpteenth press conference, first in Dutch and then in other languages: Bleib zu Hause. Restez à la maison. Stay at home. Online, I can’t escape ads from a famous furniture store : “Home is more important than ever,” purrs the cheerful voiceover.

There’s a game I played as a child: I would pick a word, any word, and say it over and over until the sound became absurd, meaningless, foreign. For me, this is exactly what the pandemic has done to the word “home”. The more I hear it, the stranger it sounds – and the less I seem to understand what it’s supposed to mean.

Because when, exactly, are we home ? 

Settling uncomfortably 

It might be that the confusion I’ve been feeling is a matter of timing. 

We’ve just moved house, on the Saturday before the schools closed. Most of the friends who had promised to help us move pulled out at the last minute because they weren’t feeling well, or had a cough, or just, you know, because – but in the end, we found just enough helping hands to get the job done. Our children stayed with their grandparents – that still seemed OK to do, back then. Just as the whole country was about to go into lockdown, we turned the key in our new front door.

In the run-up to the move, I told everyone within earshot how disruptive it was, this whole moving thing: to pack up an entire household, the looming departure, the prospect of starting anew. I wasn’t sleeping well, and when I did sleep, I had vivid dreams about packing and unpacking; about furniture that turned out to be too big or too small, about walls accidentally painted in the wrong colour and which couldn’t be repainted, ever.

But just like that, all that was in the past. We had moved in, most of our possessions were in their proper places, only a few boxes were left to unpack. The next day I ran out to pick up a couple of last-minute items: a shower curtain that we wouldn’t end up using, and a safety rail for my daughter’s new bed (raised above a built-in desk). At the store, when I paid for them, I tried to stay as far from the cashier as possible. This wasn’t easy at that point; it still felt awkward, unnatural.

Privately, I blamed my strange paralysis on what I began to call ‘domestic gravity’

I didn’t know that within a few weeks, the opposite would happen: it would start to feel unnatural to come near, too close, to anyone. Not maintaining physical distance would become a cause of discomfort.

New houses are like new shoes. You have to break them in, wear them until they’re no longer stiff and shiny; until they fit like they were made for your feet. Then home feels like home. We seemed to be off to a great start, because on our first Sunday, after I had gone to the store, we had unpacked the last of the boxes, and my parents returned our children, the prime minister announced that schools and daycare centres wouldn’t open the next morning: for the time being, we would all be staying, as much as possible, at home.

But since then, despite so many hours and days in our new house, I haven’t quite managed to settle in and feel at home. Or at least, I didn’t feel what I had always assumed – subconsciously, probably naively – that “feeling at home” would feel like: a kind of effortlessness, taken for granted, a sense of being free and sheltered at the same time.

Whether it was because of the move, or the virus, or both, I had no idea; but I felt restless, and ill at ease. At the same time I was sluggish, struggling with inertia. It was an ordeal to leave the house, even though I very much wanted to and we were all still allowed to go outside.

I blamed my strange paralysis on what I had begun (privately) to call “domestic gravity”. My partner and children had fallen under its strange spell too: our enthusiasm and zeal for our new home and situation were starting to give away. We succumbed to a languid listlessness. And so I did what I always do when something makes me feel uncomfortable: I began to read up on it. 

At home with the frugal Dutch 

In our new bookcase, on the shelf I’ve reserved for history books, sits Home: A Short History of an Idea, Find Witold Rybczynski’s book here. by the Canadian-American architect Witold Rybczynski. Humans have always sought a place to live, he writes, but that has by no means always been a place to call “home” – at least not in the way we think of it today.

Home turns out to be a restless, shifting, elusive notion

In medieval Europe most houses were small, cramped and crowded. Back then, most people worked, ate, slept and socialised all in the same place – as we do now, during the pandemic. But unlike today, a household included not just parents and children but apprentices, labourers, domestic servants and friends. Privacy as we know it was still to be invented: a home was a public, porous place.

All that began to change around the 17th century. It was a change that transformed life across Europe. As in every sweeping transformation, the causes were varied, and so were its manifestations. Still, Rybczynski places one country at the forefront of this wave of change, a country he describes “as having been, at the very least, exemplary”: the Netherlands.

While the rest of Europe was still primarily rural, Rybczynski writes, “the Netherlands was rapidly becoming a nation of townspeople. Burghers by historical tradition, the Dutch were bourgeois by inclination.” They were frugal, too, and their houses were often small, both physically and in terms of the households they contained.

Merchants and craftsmen commonly worked outside the home, households rarely hired domestic help, mothers raised their children on their own, and children stayed in the home longer because they were attending school, rather than starting apprenticeships, from the age of seven. As a result, most homes of the urban bourgeoisie in the Netherlands “housed a single couple and their children”.

For them, “home” became less an extension of the public space, and a private domain instead: a place where comfort, intimacy and safety were the principal values. Before too long, the household became synonymous with the nuclear family, and “home” gradually took on the meaning it still has today.

Home: like it or not

Except that, of course, it doesn’t really have just one meaning. “Home” means very different things to different people, I read in Home: A Very Short Introduction by the American philosopher Michael Allen Fox (I bought the book shortly after our move, together with Viruses: A Very Short Introduction ). While many of us associate “home” with familiarity, permanence and immutability, it turns out, Fox writes, to be “a restless, shifting, somewhat elusive notion” instead. 

Etymologically, home – like Swedish hemma and German heim –  is derived from the Old Norse heima . It refers not only to a concrete place, but to a state of being as well. The term is both objective and subjective, connoting both a physical structure and a set of emotional associations. These buildings and the feelings they evoke span a huge range, between dramatic extremes.

Home as a safe haven is a theoretical ideal, not a lived reality

What to think, for example, about those for whom home is not a safe space at all, but rather a place one must escape as soon as possible? Globally, reports of domestic violence are on the rise, in tandem with the rise in Covid-19 infections and the roll-out of lockdown measures. 

Or what of people who live alone, for whom home doesn’t equal “family”, or who might currently associate home more with loneliness and isolation than with companionship and comfort? Or the many, many people for whom home is no fixed place or experience at all, but rather a longing that they might never see fulfilled? 

I think of the refugee camps on the Greek islands, already overcrowded beyond capacity: “The corona pandemic that threatens to overwhelm the camps will have catastrophic consequences for the refugees,” European doctors warn in a call to action. The prime minister tells us to stay home ­– but, as the front page of a newspaper published by a local homeless shelter points out, that’s “hard to do when you don’t have one”.

For many, then, the concept of “home” as a safe haven is a theoretical ideal rather than a lived reality. And even the idealised home – “home” as a bastion of peace and quiet and safety, that holdover from a bourgeois age, has a flip side: “home” as a place of confinement, isolation, and a lack of freedom. 

I wonder, for example, whether those 17th century Dutch women – the first in Europe to bear sole responsibility for running their house and raising their children – really thought of “home” as, first and foremost, a pleasant and safe place of comfort. Might they have felt burdened by these responsibilities as well? I for one find it hard to take true satisfaction in maintaining a home, a task with no real end, both repetitive and relentless. As Dutch feminist icon Joke Smit observed, in 1967, Read Joke Smit’s article here. describing the mother of young children: “the result of her work is being demolished underneath her hands: she therefore gets the sense that all her efforts are for naught”. 

So I sympathise with those second-wave feminists who, half a century ago, set about dismantling the idealised construct of domestic home life. In their eyes, writes Dutch sociologist Jan Willem Duyvendak in his essay De Onttovering van Thuis , The Disenchantment of Home, women were “excluded from full equality and opportunity; in this role, they were effectively locked up behind the walls of private life, while men, the breadwinners, found the whole world open to them.”

In the decades since, women have left the house and entered the labour market in droves. But has that made us feel any less confined? Or do we feel trapped now, between two worlds, inside and outside, both sides demanding more than we can give? For no matter how much time we’re spending outside the home compared to previous generations, most of us still have a hard time getting past the notion, whether internalised or imposed by others, that it’s our job to turn our house into a home.

Order in the house

At night, in a room that still smells faintly of paint, I lie awake reading Making Home , an essay by the British novelist Rachel Cusk. Home, she observes, is “where personal ideals are externalised or personal failures made visible.”

My personal ideal is also my personal failure: order. It’s an ideal because it’s unattainable – three other people live in this house, two under the age of seven, so all my attempts at creating order are predestined for sabotage. This is especially true now that we’re all at home, all of the time, the four of us entwined in an endless choreography of making mess and cleaning up again.

The tidying I do is dictated, like most neuroses, primarily by a desire for control

The seventeenth- and eighteenth-century bourgeois households of the Netherlands were famous for the drive and dedication with which the lady of the house kept things tidy, Rybczynski writes. This fact was all the more striking, he notes, “since we know that in their personal habits the Dutch were not especially clean; there is plenty of evidence that they were considered, even by the insalubrious standards of the seventeenth century, to be dirty.” But cleaning oneself and cleaning up a house are, of course, two very different things.

I’ve never been a germophobe, although I’m washing my hands more than ever before these days – and I’m constantly trying to get my children to do the same. Our new house is never squeaky clean, but it is, quite often, tidy. 

The tidying I do is dictated, like most neuroses I suppose, primarily by a desire for control. I’ve always been enamoured of feeling in control, but presently this desire is getting free rein – if only because I’m spending so much time at home that it’s all too easy to get caught up in putting things back in their place. Toy trains go in the toy train drawer, there’s a bucket for the Barbies, marker pens go with the markers and the pencils go with the pencils.

It’s a way of dealing with uncertainty: however chaotic or unpredictable the outside world becomes, at home I know exactly where everything is – at least in theory. I’ll admit to sometimes tidying up too well, causing things to get lost (especially in our new house). Also, putting things back in place takes up a lot of time, time I could have spent doing other things. This is why my personal ideal is my failure, too. 

On the other hand, since we’ve moved in, the rest of the world seems to have joined me in my domestic inclinations. The messier and more unpredictable the pandemic becomes, the greater the desire – the necessity, perhaps – to bring our immediate circumstances under control. The virus is messing up the world, and the only way to keep the chaos in check is by making sure everyone stays, as much as possible, in their place. Barbies in their bucket, people in their homes.

Back to the fort

One Sunday morning in April, a giant nest springs up next to the bookcase in the living room. My son and daughter have collected every blanket and pillow they could find, and piled them into a great heap on the floor. They ask if I want to lie down in it with them. It looks cosy, although I know someone’s going to have to tidy it all away later.

I make a half-hearted counter-offer. Would they like to come outside with me? To take a bike ride? Do some chalk drawings on the pavement? Maybe play on the scooters a bit? But after days and days of sunshine, the weather has turned damp and grey; we can all see that. The children shake their heads: they’d rather stay inside, at home.

Our inertia is beginning to weigh on me. I’m reminded of something I read recently in Thuis. Verkenningen van het alledaagse , Home. Explorations of the Everyday, by the Dutch philosopher Pieter Hoexum. (The postman who delivered this book left it on the doorstep, rang the bell, and ran off. Social distancing had been the norm for a couple of weeks at that point; his behaviour didn’t strike me as odd at all.)

Even in the least complicated cases, when home feels like the home in “Home Sweet Home”, or “Home is where the heart is”, or any of the other aphorisms, there are still two sides to the story. “Living someplace means constantly bouncing back and forth between two urges: once you’ve found a place to stay, you want to get out, get some fresh air, go somewhere, and as soon as you’re out you start to think you should be getting back, to the safety of home ,” Hoexum writes.

For the ancient Greeks, Hestia, goddess of the hearth, represented “home”; but she was not the only one. Hermes did too, the god with winged sandals, the one who was always on the move. This duality among the gods, Hoexum writes, reflects a sense of home “marked by the same duality that humans have: mankind...is controlled by centrifugal as well as centripetal forces.”

Home is a ‘weapon’ in ‘the war being waged’ against the pandemic

It’s starting to dawn on me that the restlessness I’ve been feeling may have less to do with our house being new, and more to do with the fact that this house is so hard to leave. Not because it’s not allowed – in the Netherlands we can go outside when we need to, thankfully – but because of the steady drumbeat of official messages that it’s best if we don’t. Bleib zu Hause. Restez à la maison. Blijf thuis.

It seems to me that “home” is only truly a “home” when you have the option to leave it; when it’s a place to return to, rather than a place where you have to stay. But we are all less free to go now – and if you can’t go out, you can’t come home either.

Home is more important than ever , the famous furniture store told me in its ad. It might be more accurate to say that “home” has taken on a new role. In addition to being a refuge, a safe harbour, it’s become a tool, a “weapon” in the “war” being waged on the pandemic. It’s accrued a new meaning – one that has little to do with intimacy and the comforts of “home” and leaves many of us feeling a little displaced instead.

For the time being, home is no longer a personal matter, no longer a place of privacy – or at least not primarily. Our homes have been shifted back into the public arena, have become a matter of public interest. We’re staying inside, so that outside can become safe again, waiting it out until the day we can truly return, the day we can really come home.

My children ask me once again if I want to join them in their blanket fort. I look out the window, at the chilly and unappealing world outside, and decide that they’re right about wanting to stay home. Then I get down on my knees, and crawl in with them.

Translated from Dutch by Kyle Wohlmut and Joy Phillips

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Home: Connotative Definitions of the Word Essay

It is quite common in life to encounter words with more than one meaning used under different contexts. A word may possess an original meaning for which it was intended. However, with time the same word may acquire associative or connotative dimension. The word ‘home’, for instance, is commonly defined as a dwelling place where one gets comfort and security (Susanka 2). It is a place where a family or a person can take refuge as well as keep his or her belongings. Wild and domesticated animals alike are known to have their dwelling places which are also called homes. The essay will discuss the extended definition of the word ‘home’ depending on its usage. A lthough the word home seems to have only one common definition, it is evident from its usage that it has a broad connotative definition that varies greatly with context making its use to have a lot of significance in the day to day communication.

The word ‘home’ can imply a variety of residential communities or even institutions purposely constructed for people to stay in. These include; homes for nursing purposes, children’s homes, homes for the elderly, prisons are also homes for criminals and foster homes. These are the housing structures that have been constructed for special groups of people to live in. It refers to a place where someone or a group of closely related people spend and can be found most of the time, for example, a family or age mates (Winslow & Jacobson 6).

From an architectural perspective, the word ‘home’ implies a physical structure constructed to contain people in it. The sizes may vary greatly from mansions that have several rooms or floors to a small hut constructed using less sophisticated materials and techniques (Susanka 5). Furthermore, a boat can be constructed to make it a home for human beings to reside in. This kind of structure is usually referred to as a houseboat and it makes up a home on the water. These are some of the modern inventions that man has made. In the past, human beings lived in caves which they identified as their homes. The modern usage of the word ‘home’ includes the country, state, or even city where one comes from (Brown 13).

Another aspect of understanding the word ‘home’ is by considering the psychological perspective. It can be considered as a feeling of security and comfort (Brown 12). For instance, if one is welcomed, he or she would feel at home or feel appreciated. This aspect of the home is usually believed to have a psychological impact on an individual. When one moves away from a conventional place of residence, then a feeling of withdrawal creeps in and may end up being homesick.

Moreover, the word ‘home’ has another strong connotation when it comes to modern computer terminologies. Home refers to the first view which is encountered and it leads to other tasks, for instance, a homepage or even the desktop (Brown 15). When it comes to the internet, the home pages contain introductory content, the most recent news, and events, and links to other parts of the main link. Still, on computer usage of the word, it may connote a directory that contains files belonging to specific persons using a given computer system.

The essay has provided an extended definition of the word ‘home’. It has offered the various connotative definitions which have been found to depend greatly on the context and point in time. The understanding of the various definitions of this word, therefore, would serve to ensure proper communication.

Works Cited

Brown, W. H. Home: is it a complex terminology? University Pub. Co., 2002, 12-17.

Susanka, S. Home solutions. Taunton Press, 2002, 2-13.

Winslow, B., & Jacobson, M. Designs of home: essential points. Taunton Press, 2002, 1-10.

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IvyPanda. (2021, January 16). Home: Connotative Definitions of the Word. https://ivypanda.com/essays/home-connotative-definitions-of-the-word/

"Home: Connotative Definitions of the Word." IvyPanda , 16 Jan. 2021, ivypanda.com/essays/home-connotative-definitions-of-the-word/.

IvyPanda . (2021) 'Home: Connotative Definitions of the Word'. 16 January.

IvyPanda . 2021. "Home: Connotative Definitions of the Word." January 16, 2021. https://ivypanda.com/essays/home-connotative-definitions-of-the-word/.

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meaning of home essay

What Makes a House a Home?

Meghan daum on the complexities of where we take shelter.

In the canon of common dreams, it’s a classic among classics: the dream in which we discover an unfamiliar room in a familiar house. The way it usually goes is that we’re in some kind of living space, maybe our own, maybe a space that’s inexplicably taken some other form (“It was my grandmother’s house, but somehow the prime minister of France lived there!”), and suddenly there’s more of it. Suddenly the place has grown a new appendage. But it’s not exactly new. There’s a sense that it’s been there all along yet has managed to escape our notice. Sometimes there’s just one new room, sometimes there are several. Sometimes there’s an entire wing, a greenhouse, a vast expanse of land where we’d once only known a small backyard.

We are amazed, enchanted, even chastened by our failure to have seen this space before now. We are also, according to psychologists and dream experts, working through the prospect of change, the burgeoning of new possibilities. The standard interpretation of the extra-room dream is that it’s a portent, or just a friendly reminder, of shifting tides. The room represents parts of ourselves that have lain dormant but will soon emerge, hopefully in a good way, but then again, who knows? Look harder , says the extra-room dream, the geometry of your life is not what it seems. There are more sides than you thought . The angles are wider , the dimensions far greater than you’d given them credit for .

Not that we can hear much on that frequency. The human mind can be tragically literal. Chances are we exit the dream thinking only that our property value has increased. But upon fully waking up, the extra room is gone. There’s a brief moment of disappointment, then we enter our day and return to our life. We organize our movements in relation to the architecture that is physically before us. That is to say, we live our lives in the spaces we’ve chosen to call home.

meaning of home essay

Let’s get one thing straight. A house is not the same as a home. Home is an idea, a social construct, a story we tell ourselves about who we are and who and what we want closest in our midst. There is no place like home because home is not actually a place. A house on the other hand (or an apartment, a trailer, a cabin, a castle, a loft, a yurt) is a physical entity. It may be the flesh and bones of a home, but it can’t capture the soul of that home. The soul is made of cooking smells and scuffmarks on the stairs and pencil lines on a wall recording the heights of growing children. The soul evolves over time. The old saying might go, “You buy a house but you make a home,” but, really, you grow a home. You let it unfold on its own terms. You wait for it. Home is rarely in the mix the day we move into a new house. Sometimes it’s not even there the day we move out. It’s possible we should consider ourselves lucky if we get one real home in a lifetime, the same way we’re supposedly lucky if we get one great love.

“All architecture is shelter,” said the postmodernist Philip Johnson. “All great architecture is the design of space that contains, cuddles, exalts, or stimulates the persons in that space.”

If all architecture, no matter its purpose, is shelter, then architecture intended as shelter must be the ultimate haven. If an airport or a library can cuddle, exalt, and stimulate, a house’s embrace must be at once profoundly intimate and ecstatically transportive, erotic even.

I guess this is where I come clean. I write this as a person for whom houses can have an almost aphrodisiacal quality. I say “almost” because the other charge I get from a beautiful house feels like something close to the divine. A perfect house—and by that I mean a respected house, one that was honorably designed and solidly built and allowed to keep its integrity henceforth—is a tiny cathedral. But a perfect house is also lust made manifest. It can make its visitors delirious with longing. It can send butterflies into their bellies in ways a living, breathing human being rarely can. A house that’s an object of lust says, You want me, but you’ll never have me . It says, You couldn’t have me even if you could afford me. You couldn’t have me even if I didn’t already belong to someone else . And that is because houses, like most objects of lust, lose their perfection the moment we’re granted access. To take possession of a house is to skim the top off of its magic the minute you sign the deed. It is to concede that the house you live in will never be the house you desired so ravenously. It is to accept that the American dream of homeownership is contingent upon letting go of other dreams—for instance, the kind where the rooms appear where there were none before.

Maybe that’s why architects are such sources of fascination, even aspiration. If they want an extra room, they just draw it. If they want a bigger window, a wider archway, a whole new everything, the pencil will make it so. At least that’s the layperson’s fantasy. It’s not surprising that so many fictional heroes in literature and film are architects. The profession, especially when practiced by men, seems to lend itself to a particularly satisfying montage of dreamboat moments. Here he is, artistic and sensitive at his drafting table. Here he is, perched on the steel framework of a construction site high above the earth, hard hat on his head, building plans tucked under his arm in a scroll. Here he is, gazing skyward at his final creation, his face lit by the sun’s refraction off his glass and steel, awestruck by the majesty of it all and awesome in his own right.

Nearly always, these are men on a mission. Theirs is not a vocation but a passion that both guides them and threatens to ruin them. In Ayn Rand’s novel The Fountainhead (perhaps the ne plus ultra of architect fetishization), the grindingly uncompromising Howard Roark winds up laboring at a quarry because he won’t betray his aesthetic principles. In Graham Greene’s A Burnt-Out Case , the internationally renowned but existentially bereft architect hero flees to a leper colony for solace. Hollywood, too, seems to prefer its architects miserable and brooding, not just in the form of adorably widowed dads like Tom Hanks’s character in Sleepless in Seattle and Liam Neeson’s in Love Actually (and wasn’t the distinctly non-brooding architect patriarch of The Brady Bunch technically a widowed dad?) but also adorably commitment-phobic boyfriends and jealous, cuckolded husbands. More often than not, the intensity of their vision has contributed mightily to their demise. Why did Woody Harrelson’s character, a struggling architect, let Robert Redford’s character sleep with his wife for a million dollars in Indecent Proposal ? Because he was deeply in debt from trying to build his dream house.

Well, what better way to go down?

I think part of my problem with “Where is home?” (and the arguably worse “Where are you from?”) is that it denies people their complications. We all have one definitive birthplace (unless we were born at sea or in flight, I suppose), but after that it’s a matter of interpretation. The dwellings in which we are raised do not necessarily constitute “home.” The towns where we grow up do not always feel like hometowns, nor do the places we wind up settling down in as adults. Census data tell us that the average American moves eleven times over a lifetime. For my part, I’m sorry to say I have lived in at least thirty different houses or apartments over the course of my years. Actually, I’m not sorry; each one thrilled me in its own way. But despite those thrills, only a handful felt anything like “home,” and even then, the feeling was the kind that visits you for a moment and then flutters away. As with “happiness,” another abstraction Americans are forever trying to isolate and define, “home” has always felt to me so ephemeral as to almost not be worth talking about. As with happiness, it’s great when you happen upon it, but it can’t be chased.

A house, on the other hand, is eminently chaseable. There’s a reason shopping for a house or an apartment is called hunting. Real estate turns us into predators. We can stalk a house online or from the street. We can obsess over it, fight over it, mentally move into it and start knocking down walls before we’ve even been inside. We can spend Sundays going to open houses as though going to church. We can watch home design programs on television twenty-four hours a day. We can become addicted to Internet real estate listing sites as though the photos and descriptions were a form of pornography—which of course they totally are.

“I wish I had never seen your building,” says Patricia Neal as Dominique Francon, the austere and tortured lover-then-wife of Howard Roark in the film version of The Fountainhead . “It’s the things we admire or want that enslave us.”

meaning of home essay

It’s pretty clear that houses, despite being among our greatest sources of protection, are also among our greatest enslavers. You might say that’s because we go into too much debt for them and make them too large and fill them with too much junk. You might say it’s because they’re forever demanding our attention, always threatening to leak or crack and be in the way of a tornado. They are sanctuaries, but they are also impending disasters. And most tyrannically of all, they are mirrors. They are tireless, merciless reflections of our best and worst impulses. Unlike the chaos and unsightliness of the outside world, which can easily be construed as hardly our responsibility, the scene under our roofs is of our own making. The careless sides of ourselves—the clutter, the dust, that kitchen drawer jammed with uncategorizable detritus that plagues every household—are as much a part of us as the curated side. Our houses are not just showplaces but hiding places.

Our homes, on the other hand, are glorious, maddening no-places. They are what we spend our lives searching for or running away from or both. They are the stuff of dreams, the extra rooms that vanish upon waking, the invisible possibilities we tamp down without even knowing it. They are the architecture of the unconscious mind—which is a physically uninhabitable space. Thank goodness there are people out there building houses.

__________________________________

The American Idea of Home

From   The American Idea of Home: Conversations about Architecture and Design   by Bernard Friedman. Used with permission of University of Texas Press. Foreword copyright 2017 by Meghan Daum.

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Home — Essay Samples — Life — Hometown — What My Home Means to Me

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What My Home Means to Me

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Published: Apr 8, 2022

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meaning of home essay

Frequently asked questions

What is an essay.

An essay is a focused piece of writing that explains, argues, describes, or narrates.

In high school, you may have to write many different types of essays to develop your writing skills.

Academic essays at college level are usually argumentative : you develop a clear thesis about your topic and make a case for your position using evidence, analysis and interpretation.

Frequently asked questions: Writing an essay

For a stronger conclusion paragraph, avoid including:

  • Important evidence or analysis that wasn’t mentioned in the main body
  • Generic concluding phrases (e.g. “In conclusion…”)
  • Weak statements that undermine your argument (e.g. “There are good points on both sides of this issue.”)

Your conclusion should leave the reader with a strong, decisive impression of your work.

Your essay’s conclusion should contain:

  • A rephrased version of your overall thesis
  • A brief review of the key points you made in the main body
  • An indication of why your argument matters

The conclusion may also reflect on the broader implications of your argument, showing how your ideas could applied to other contexts or debates.

The conclusion paragraph of an essay is usually shorter than the introduction . As a rule, it shouldn’t take up more than 10–15% of the text.

The “hook” is the first sentence of your essay introduction . It should lead the reader into your essay, giving a sense of why it’s interesting.

To write a good hook, avoid overly broad statements or long, dense sentences. Try to start with something clear, concise and catchy that will spark your reader’s curiosity.

Your essay introduction should include three main things, in this order:

  • An opening hook to catch the reader’s attention.
  • Relevant background information that the reader needs to know.
  • A thesis statement that presents your main point or argument.

The length of each part depends on the length and complexity of your essay .

Let’s say you’re writing a five-paragraph  essay about the environmental impacts of dietary choices. Here are three examples of topic sentences you could use for each of the three body paragraphs :

  • Research has shown that the meat industry has severe environmental impacts.
  • However, many plant-based foods are also produced in environmentally damaging ways.
  • It’s important to consider not only what type of diet we eat, but where our food comes from and how it is produced.

Each of these sentences expresses one main idea – by listing them in order, we can see the overall structure of the essay at a glance. Each paragraph will expand on the topic sentence with relevant detail, evidence, and arguments.

The topic sentence usually comes at the very start of the paragraph .

However, sometimes you might start with a transition sentence to summarize what was discussed in previous paragraphs, followed by the topic sentence that expresses the focus of the current paragraph.

Topic sentences help keep your writing focused and guide the reader through your argument.

In an essay or paper , each paragraph should focus on a single idea. By stating the main idea in the topic sentence, you clarify what the paragraph is about for both yourself and your reader.

A topic sentence is a sentence that expresses the main point of a paragraph . Everything else in the paragraph should relate to the topic sentence.

The thesis statement is essential in any academic essay or research paper for two main reasons:

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Without a clear thesis statement, an essay can end up rambling and unfocused, leaving your reader unsure of exactly what you want to say.

The thesis statement should be placed at the end of your essay introduction .

Follow these four steps to come up with a thesis statement :

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A thesis statement is a sentence that sums up the central point of your paper or essay . Everything else you write should relate to this key idea.

An essay isn’t just a loose collection of facts and ideas. Instead, it should be centered on an overarching argument (summarized in your thesis statement ) that every part of the essay relates to.

The way you structure your essay is crucial to presenting your argument coherently. A well-structured essay helps your reader follow the logic of your ideas and understand your overall point.

The structure of an essay is divided into an introduction that presents your topic and thesis statement , a body containing your in-depth analysis and arguments, and a conclusion wrapping up your ideas.

The structure of the body is flexible, but you should always spend some time thinking about how you can organize your essay to best serve your ideas.

The vast majority of essays written at university are some sort of argumentative essay . Almost all academic writing involves building up an argument, though other types of essay might be assigned in composition classes.

Essays can present arguments about all kinds of different topics. For example:

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At high school and in composition classes at university, you’ll often be told to write a specific type of essay , but you might also just be given prompts.

Look for keywords in these prompts that suggest a certain approach: The word “explain” suggests you should write an expository essay , while the word “describe” implies a descriptive essay . An argumentative essay might be prompted with the word “assess” or “argue.”

In rhetorical analysis , a claim is something the author wants the audience to believe. A support is the evidence or appeal they use to convince the reader to believe the claim. A warrant is the (often implicit) assumption that links the support with the claim.

Logos appeals to the audience’s reason, building up logical arguments . Ethos appeals to the speaker’s status or authority, making the audience more likely to trust them. Pathos appeals to the emotions, trying to make the audience feel angry or sympathetic, for example.

Collectively, these three appeals are sometimes called the rhetorical triangle . They are central to rhetorical analysis , though a piece of rhetoric might not necessarily use all of them.

The term “text” in a rhetorical analysis essay refers to whatever object you’re analyzing. It’s frequently a piece of writing or a speech, but it doesn’t have to be. For example, you could also treat an advertisement or political cartoon as a text.

The goal of a rhetorical analysis is to explain the effect a piece of writing or oratory has on its audience, how successful it is, and the devices and appeals it uses to achieve its goals.

Unlike a standard argumentative essay , it’s less about taking a position on the arguments presented, and more about exploring how they are constructed.

You should try to follow your outline as you write your essay . However, if your ideas change or it becomes clear that your structure could be better, it’s okay to depart from your essay outline . Just make sure you know why you’re doing so.

If you have to hand in your essay outline , you may be given specific guidelines stating whether you have to use full sentences. If you’re not sure, ask your supervisor.

When writing an essay outline for yourself, the choice is yours. Some students find it helpful to write out their ideas in full sentences, while others prefer to summarize them in short phrases.

You will sometimes be asked to hand in an essay outline before you start writing your essay . Your supervisor wants to see that you have a clear idea of your structure so that writing will go smoothly.

Even when you do not have to hand it in, writing an essay outline is an important part of the writing process . It’s a good idea to write one (as informally as you like) to clarify your structure for yourself whenever you are working on an essay.

Comparisons in essays are generally structured in one of two ways:

  • The alternating method, where you compare your subjects side by side according to one specific aspect at a time.
  • The block method, where you cover each subject separately in its entirety.

It’s also possible to combine both methods, for example by writing a full paragraph on each of your topics and then a final paragraph contrasting the two according to a specific metric.

Your subjects might be very different or quite similar, but it’s important that there be meaningful grounds for comparison . You can probably describe many differences between a cat and a bicycle, but there isn’t really any connection between them to justify the comparison.

You’ll have to write a thesis statement explaining the central point you want to make in your essay , so be sure to know in advance what connects your subjects and makes them worth comparing.

Some essay prompts include the keywords “compare” and/or “contrast.” In these cases, an essay structured around comparing and contrasting is the appropriate response.

Comparing and contrasting is also a useful approach in all kinds of academic writing : You might compare different studies in a literature review , weigh up different arguments in an argumentative essay , or consider different theoretical approaches in a theoretical framework .

The key difference is that a narrative essay is designed to tell a complete story, while a descriptive essay is meant to convey an intense description of a particular place, object, or concept.

Narrative and descriptive essays both allow you to write more personally and creatively than other kinds of essays , and similar writing skills can apply to both.

If you’re not given a specific prompt for your descriptive essay , think about places and objects you know well, that you can think of interesting ways to describe, or that have strong personal significance for you.

The best kind of object for a descriptive essay is one specific enough that you can describe its particular features in detail—don’t choose something too vague or general.

If you’re not given much guidance on what your narrative essay should be about, consider the context and scope of the assignment. What kind of story is relevant, interesting, and possible to tell within the word count?

The best kind of story for a narrative essay is one you can use to reflect on a particular theme or lesson, or that takes a surprising turn somewhere along the way.

Don’t worry too much if your topic seems unoriginal. The point of a narrative essay is how you tell the story and the point you make with it, not the subject of the story itself.

Narrative essays are usually assigned as writing exercises at high school or in university composition classes. They may also form part of a university application.

When you are prompted to tell a story about your own life or experiences, a narrative essay is usually the right response.

The majority of the essays written at university are some sort of argumentative essay . Unless otherwise specified, you can assume that the goal of any essay you’re asked to write is argumentative: To convince the reader of your position using evidence and reasoning.

In composition classes you might be given assignments that specifically test your ability to write an argumentative essay. Look out for prompts including instructions like “argue,” “assess,” or “discuss” to see if this is the goal.

At college level, you must properly cite your sources in all essays , research papers , and other academic texts (except exams and in-class exercises).

Add a citation whenever you quote , paraphrase , or summarize information or ideas from a source. You should also give full source details in a bibliography or reference list at the end of your text.

The exact format of your citations depends on which citation style you are instructed to use. The most common styles are APA , MLA , and Chicago .

An argumentative essay tends to be a longer essay involving independent research, and aims to make an original argument about a topic. Its thesis statement makes a contentious claim that must be supported in an objective, evidence-based way.

An expository essay also aims to be objective, but it doesn’t have to make an original argument. Rather, it aims to explain something (e.g., a process or idea) in a clear, concise way. Expository essays are often shorter assignments and rely less on research.

An expository essay is a common assignment in high-school and university composition classes. It might be assigned as coursework, in class, or as part of an exam.

Sometimes you might not be told explicitly to write an expository essay. Look out for prompts containing keywords like “explain” and “define.” An expository essay is usually the right response to these prompts.

An expository essay is a broad form that varies in length according to the scope of the assignment.

Expository essays are often assigned as a writing exercise or as part of an exam, in which case a five-paragraph essay of around 800 words may be appropriate.

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COMMENTS

  1. John Berger's Extended Definition of Home

    by John Berger The term home (Old Norse Heimer, High German heim, Greek komi, meaning "village") has, since a long time, been taken over by two kinds of moralists, both dear to those who wield power. The notion of home became the keystone for a code of domestic morality, safeguarding the property (which included the women) of the family.

  2. What Does Home Mean to You: [Essay Example], 1251 words

    "Home is a place you grow up wanting to leave, and grow old wanting to get back to." Home is where I was raised. Where I played, laughed, cried, and learned. It is where I grew. Where I became me, a strong, intelligent woman, confident in myself, in my future and in my past. I believe that a home is more than four walls and a roof over head.

  3. What is Home? Essay

    Get Access Joan Didion's On Going Home By Joan Didion What does the word home mean? In the essay "On Going Home" by Didion she recreates her feelings and thoughts about her meaning of home. Family is a big part of one's life and important one at that and Didion uses it as the center of her work.

  4. The Meaning of Home

    The Meaning of Home Essay Exclusively available on IvyPanda Updated: Nov 1st, 2023 Home is a word that means a lot in the life of every person. For some, this is a place to come after hard work to relax and feel comfortable. For others, this is a kind of intermediate point from which they can set off towards adventure.

  5. Meaning of Home Student Contest

    Thank you for supporting Habitat for Humanity Canada through the Meaning of Home contest. Grades 4, 5 and 6 students across Canada are invited to submit a poem or essay explaining what home means to them. It's a great way for students to engage in an interactive and fun way, and it teaches youth the importance of safe, affordable housing.

  6. Essays About Home: Top 5 Examples and 7 Writing Prompts

    1. The Unique Feeling of Home by Anonymous on IvyPanda.Com "Nowadays, as I moved out, the place feels alien since I spend the whole time in the house during my visits to my parents.

  7. The Meaning of "Home"

    "Home" is not necessarily a synonym for "happy place." 4 Perspectives on Home Environmental psychology. Research on person-environment relationships can include the study of spaces where people...

  8. The Definition of Home

    Verlyn Klinkenborg May 2012 1 / 1 Mac Premo When did "home" become embedded in human consciousness? Is our sense of home instinctive? Are we denning animals or nest builders, or are we, at...

  9. What Is a Home? Essay Definition Examples

    The emotion of home travels, adapts, and nestles in varied spaces. Beyond the physical and emotional realms, home often takes on symbolic meanings. It can represent one's roots, culture, or heritage. For an immigrant, home might be the melodies of native songs, the flavors of traditional recipes, or the stories passed down generations.

  10. Understanding Home: A Critical Review of the Literature

    Home is variously described in the literature as conflated with or related to house, family, haven, self, gender, and journeying. Many authors also consider notions of being-at-home, creating or making home and the ideal home.

  11. The Meaning of "Home"

    A hierarchy of needs and the context in which the most basic of them are met. along with their impact, including scripts that a person wants to implement or avoid. and belonging, extending to and ...

  12. Meaning of Home: Narrative Essay

    Home is a place where we can get resources, we can go as we are, and not be questioned (safety). Detroit shows us that people can most likely call home where they have plenty of resources.

  13. What is the meaning of home? Hint: It's not just a place.

    My home grounds them, and without a home, I wouldn't have any." - Wynn, Fifth grade. Read his full essay for Habitat for Humanity Canada "Home means a future. Once we had a stable home, we could think beyond where we were going to live from week to week, and we could begin to look ahead to where we wanted to go.

  14. Why the meaning of home has changed (now that we can't leave the house)

    For them, "home" became less an extension of the public space, and a private domain instead: a place where comfort, intimacy and safety were the principal values. Before too long, the household became synonymous with the nuclear family, and "home" gradually took on the meaning it still has today.

  15. Home: Connotative Definitions of the Word Essay

    The essay will discuss the extended definition of the word 'home' depending on its usage. A lthough the word home seems to have only one common definition, it is evident from its usage that it has a broad connotative definition that varies greatly with context making its use to have a lot of significance in the day to day communication.

  16. What Makes a House a Home? ‹ Literary Hub

    Home is an idea, a social construct, a story we tell ourselves about who we are and who and what we want closest in our midst. There is no place like home because home is not actually a place. A house on the other hand (or an apartment, a trailer, a cabin, a castle, a loft, a yurt) is a physical entity. It may be the flesh and bones of a home ...

  17. Definition Essay: What Is Home?

    Open Document Essay Sample Check Writing Quality Show More "What Is Home" What is home? If you look up the definition of the home it would come out to be, Home is a permanent place where one lives. Nevertheless, the definition of a home goes much beyond its visible description.

  18. What My Home Means to Me: [Essay Example], 827 words

    What My Home Means to Me. I have heard the words ''Home is where the heart is.''. My grandmother is the only person who always reminds me of the meaning of home. I can still remember her gestures and the way she said things with regard to the word ''Home. '' For me, a home is just an environment where you can be allowed and can ...

  19. Finding My Place: Exploring the Meaning of Home

    Finding My Place: Exploring the Meaning of Home: Free Essay Example, 625 words Home / Essay Samples / Life / Personal Experience Finding My Place: Exploring the Meaning of Home Category: Life, Sociology, Education Topic: Personal Experience, Personal Life, Personal Statement Pages: 1 (625 words) Views: 394 Grade: 5 Download

  20. Meaning Of Home Essay

    Meaning Of Home Essay. 942 Words4 Pages. "The definition of "Home" and where to find it.". Now, back when I was in Singapore, my family used to move around a lot. Our family never actually had a place to call their own back then- we just simply lived in various rented apartments and units. By the time our terms were up, we would move on ...

  21. The meaning of home

    Home is has a deep emotional meaning. Home for some people could be to feel comfortable, at ease, secure with the surroundings, small special memories or dreams, are a sense of belong to something. Home can of course have a contrast meaning to the good things. Home could mean tragic events, awkward moments, and feelings of discomfort ...

  22. What is an essay?

    An essay is a focused piece of writing that explains, argues, describes, or narrates. In high school, you may have to write many different types of essays to develop your writing skills. Academic essays at college level are usually argumentative: you develop a clear thesis about your topic and make a case for your position using evidence ...

  23. Definition Essay: The Meaning Of Home

    Definition Essay: The Meaning Of Home. The meaning of "home" is emotional for me. Living in California, a home is a substantial piece of net worth, often looked upon as an investment that can be used as a savings account, or a checking account, in which you can always pull out some extra cash. It's regarded as financial worth, as well as ...