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What Does It Mean to "Drive Home" a Point?

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  • Written By: A. Leverkuhn
  • Edited By: Andrew Jones
  • Last Modified Date: 26 August 2016
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When an English speaker uses the phrase “to drive home” a point, it means that the person is emphasizing a specific point. This allegorical phrase is part of a wider category of English idioms that use verbs in figurative ways to increase the effect of the language. Technical synonyms for this phrase include accentuate, emphasize, and stress.

In terms of its structure, the phrase “drive home” is a sort of phrasal verb. A true phrasal verb is a two word phrase that includes a verb and a preposition. Here, the preposition is replaced by the word “home,” which is technically a noun. Still, the phrase “drive home” functions the same way as a phrasal verb does.

Another phrase that has the same meaning as drive home is “bring home.” By looking at the use of these two phrases, readers can see more about how they fit into the English language. For example, if someone says “I really want to bring this point home” or “I really want to drive this point home,” they’re using the phrase correctly, expressing the importance of the point and the importance of communicating it strongly.

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Some longer idiomatic phrases also convey the same meaning. For example, someone might say that someone “really pounded it into our skulls.” This idiom relies on the same physical allegory that the phrase “drive home” does. It’s important to note that the use of the word “drive” in the phrase does not refer to driving a vehicle, as some might expect, but is more akin to driving a nail with a hammer, in which a process of physical force applied in a given direction.

Other idioms use the same physical allegory. Someone might talk about someone else “hammering on” a point. All of these idioms use the idea of physical force to convey the idea of emphasizing an idea through speech.

In addition to all of the above, other phrases that use the same physical allegory may have a more specific meaning. For example, an English speaker might also talk about “beating a dead horse.” In this idiomatic phrase, there is the same meaning, that someone is emphasizing a point, but in this case, there’s a definite negative connotation, where it’s implied that the action is redundant, and that the point has already been restated and emphasized to an excessive level.

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Ruggercat68
Post 2

Sometimes my boss will try to tell me exactly how a new policy is supposed to work. He will go through all of the details and make sure I'm on the same page, but then he will drive it home by reminding me my job depends on compliance or enforcement. I think the idiom "drive home a point" is meant to be the last word on the subject. Once a nail is driven all the way into the wood, there is no more discussion. It's over and done.

AnswerMan
Post 1

Sticking with the hammer and nail allegory, sometimes a carpenter can drive a nail home with one good hammer blow, but other times it takes several lighter hits. When someone is trying to drive home a point, it may only take one solid fact or a series of smaller facts.

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