What Does "Home Sweet Home" Mean?

Jim B.

"Home sweet home" is an English idiom that implies that a one's home is preferable to all other places. It is often uttered by those people who are returning to their home after a long time away. The implication is that, even if there are other destinations that are worthwhile, they could not possible match up with the pleasures that a person's home has to offer. A 19th century American song called "Home Sweet Home" was the basis for this phrase, which has been used in practically every aspect of popular culture since that time.

The phrase "home sweet home" implies that no matter what, home is always the best place to be.
The phrase "home sweet home" implies that no matter what, home is always the best place to be.

It can be limiting to communicate using only the literal meanings of language. By contrast, many people use short phrases that have come to mean something far different than what their literal interpretations might imply. These phrases are called idioms, and they take their meanings not from the definitions of their words but rather from the way they are used and understood in a specific culture. One idiom that has been extremely popular since its first usage in the 19th century is the phrase "home sweet home."

When this phrase is uttered, it is often in praise of someone's domicile as the ultimate destination after long travels elsewhere. It could be in reference to a person's actual physical home or place of residence. Sometimes it may refer more broadly to a person's town or country. As an example, consider the sentence, "I've been overseas for over a month, but now it feels really good to be home sweet home."

This idiomatic expression gets its power from the fact that the home is often considered the center of stability and comfort in a person's life. All other places may hold some measure of uncertainty, but the home, ideally, is a place where someone does not have to worry about such outside pressures. It taps into the notion of the home as a sanctuary from problems. For example, someone might say, "I can't say that I ever feel quite as good as when I make it home sweet home after a long day of work."

The phrase first originated in America in 1823 as the title of an extremely popular song from a play. Since then, it has become a reliable part of the lexicon, especially in terms of its applications in popular culture as a part of songs and movies. It is even a popular phrase for adorning welcome mats outside of homes.

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Discussion Comments

turquoise

English is my second language. It took me a while to figure out that "home" in this idiom can also mean country, state or town.

candyquilt

I say this every time I come back from tutoring sessions. The sessions are an hour drive away, that's two hours every day. Plus, I go there after school and each session lasts three to four hours. I get so tired by the time I'm home that I throw myself on the floor yelling "home sweet home"! My mom has to drag me to my room.

burcidi

I truly understood the meaning of this phrase when I went away to college. I had never been away from home until then I missed it so much. Especially my freshman year, I couldn't wait for semester breaks and long weekends so I could go home. Nothing beats being home with family, spending time in your room and eating homemade food.

I still feel that way because I work in a different state now. I see my parents a few times a year, I wish I could go home more often!

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