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The meaning and origin of the expression: A house is not a home

A house is not a home

What's the meaning of the phrase 'A house is not a home'?

This English proverb draws the distinction between a bricks and mortar house and a caring domestic dwelling with memories and a feeling of belonging.

What's the origin of the phrase 'A house is not a home'?

The proverbial expression 'a house is not a home' has been used several times in recent popular culture and the origin might be imagined to be whichever of those was heard first. We can't be sure when the proverb was first used but we do know where - all the early uses are American.

In 1953, the American writer Polly Adler used the term as the title of her autobiography.

In 1964, Bacharach and David wrote a song with the same title, which was a hit for Dionne Warwick.

More recently, in 1981, Luther Vandross also had a hit with the song.

A house is not a homeIn fact, the proverb pre-dates even Adler's usage. No one is exactly sure of the first coinage of 'a house is not a home' but the first version known of in print comes from the American writer and women's rights advocate Margaret Fuller and it may well be that she coined it herself. Her early pro-feminist work Woman in the Nineteenth Century was published in 1845, containing this opinion:

A house is no home unless it contains food and fire for the mind as well as the body.

See also: the List of Proverbs.

Gary Martin - the author of the website.

By Gary Martin

Gary Martin is a writer and researcher on the origins of phrases and the creator of the Phrase Finder website. Over the past 26 years more than 700 million of his pages have been downloaded by readers. He is one of the most popular and trusted sources of information on phrases and idioms.

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