Lord Byron’s quote from Don Juan about without hearts a home not being real is actually rooted in the very fabric of the word “home.” The concept of home is universal, however, we all define home differently. There might be some similarities, but home means something different to each of us.

I wanted to uncover what was the root meaning of home from an etymology perspective. Turns out this idea of hearts and home being connected is a foundation in the history of the word “home.”

The English word “home” is from the Old English word hām (not the pig) which actually refers to a village or estate where many “souls” are gathered. It implies there’s a physical dwelling involved, but the main idea is that it’s a gathering of people. One dictionary I came across online had an interpretation of the modern definition of home that I really like. It states that home is “the abiding place of the affections.” To me, that sums it up like nothing else. It’s not a building or a room, but a place where your love dwells.

Home is the abiding place of the affections.

The Latin root word for home is actually the same word we use for human being, person and people. At it’s very core home is where not just your heart is, but the hearts of those you love and trust. This is why most of our homes are adorned with photos on the wall. It’s a custom that dates back a thousand years and has to do with the fact that people hung portraits on the wall to show to visitors who their ancestors and loved ones were that once lived in that home. Today, we continue this tradition but more so to show the hearts and faces of the people that are welcome in our homes.

My current home started with three hearts and has grown to six that now consistently abide under my roof. While the dwelling itself has changed becoming more crowded and significantly noisier, these are things I would consider to be the best home improvement I could have ever asked for. The walls remain the same but the people inside is what defines my home.

Whether your home is a ranch or colonial, majestic or modest, an apartment or a townhouse, the fact still remains that the hearts that enter it’s doorway or what truly defines it as home.