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My humble abode.

Posted by David FG on October 18, 2004

In Reply to: My humble abode. posted by R. Berg on October 18, 2004

: : : : : : : : ::: Hello everybody,

: : : : : : : : ::: Could you please tell me when to use the word 'abode'? I understand it means 'dwelling' or 'residence' but how often is it used in modern English? Also, what about the verb 'to abode'? According to the dictionary it can have many different meanings such as 'to stay', 'to dwell' and 'to comply' and 'to obey'.
: : : : : : : : ::: Again, how popular is this word today? Many thanks in advance. Torsten

: : : : : : : : ::In my experience people in the United States don't use "abode" very often in normal conversation. It is used when a person wants to talk formally.

: : : : : : :
: : : : : : : : : Hi ESC,

: : : : : : : : : Many thanks for your immediate response. I take it you are from the US?

: : : : : : : : The verb is "to abide" and as you rightly say, it means to stay or to dwell. The contruction "to abide by" means to obey or to comply with - "I will abide by your decision" being the most likely usage.

: : : : : : : : Neither the verb "to abide" nor the noun "abode" are much used in modern UK English, though you will still find the latter featuring in various official and legal documents or forms - "place of abode", for example.

: : : : : : : Its only common usage in the UK is in the phrase 'of no fixed abode' to refer to someone who is homeless, or is moving from temporary address to temporary address.

: : : : : : "I take it you are from the US?" Yes.

: : : : : As far as I know, American and British use of abide and abode are about the same. The words may not be frequently used, but they are not likely to go away soon, or at least not while the Protestant hymn "Abide with me" remains popular--"...Help of the helpless, O abide with me." Some examples of its more frequent uses have already been given. Add Abe's abiding love for his Irish rose, or Americans' abiding infatuation with their illusions. Americ

: : : : I am also from the U.S. Here, "abide" is much more likely to be used with a negative and to mean "tolerate," as in "I cannot abide my neighbor's stupid opinions," than in any other sense.

: : : Americans are very likely to greet invited visitors with the phrase, "Welcome to our humble abode." I imagine this is true in the U.K. as well, but I would like to know for sure. And the more I think about it, the more commonly the word seems to be used. You can say, for instance, "Here is Snurk, the home of the dragon," but you might say, "Here is Snurk, the abode of the dragon." (I don't know where Snurk is, perhaps on the planet Melmac.) SS

: : In Australia, we'd say something like 'welcome to our humble abode' in a sort of tongue in cheek fake formality. I use it myself quite often in precisely that way. As for abide - apart from saying "I can't abide something or someone", Aussies wouldn't use that word particularly often.

: Oh, yes, I'd forgotten "my humble abode." Purely theoretically now, in the American Southwest, a homeowner might say "Welcome to my humble adobe." rb

I agree that 'my humble abode' might be used as a fake formality in the UK, but I think it is dying out - it has been used so often that it doesn't even raise a smile any more.

Abide meaning 'tolerate' is not very common - would probably rate as regional and rather old-fashioned.