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This essay is about the connotations of the words “house” and “home”

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  • Pages: 3
  • Word count: 660
  • Category: Home House

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What would you call the structure you live in? Would it be a house, or a home? While the words “house” and “home” possess similar definitions and can be used interchangeably– after all both do provide some sort of shelter or protection- they embody very different connotations, and their usage evokes different emotional responses.

A home does not have to be a building, or even something physical. The song, My Old Kentucky Home by Stephen Foster, makes it clear a home is not just a dwelling, but rather the place one grows up, and always remembers, perhaps more positively than is warranted. (After all, where do birds make music all day?) In our national anthem, we sing, “land of the free, and home of the brave.” We think of our country as our home; although it is not a structure, the place where we have grown up and where people share our values and our beliefs. Our place of origin will always be considered our home; wether someone moves away from it and maybe hasn’t lived there for some time, it will always be significant to them.

Brick, wood, vinyl siding… these are the ways we build a house. A house only becomes a home, though, after it has been lived in. When memories are formed, when pictures of children growing up and the family all together at Christmas or Hanukkah line the walls, maybe when little colored drawings by children adorn the smudged refrigerator, that’s when a house may be called a home. A home also reflects the personality of the residents through its design- where the furniture is positioned, the color of the wallpaper, and the carpeting. You would probably have a very different image of a person if you walk into their living room and it has yellow carpeting with pink polka-dots everywhere or the walls are overlain with extremely large bearskin rugs. When trying to ascertain value, maybe for insurance reasons, houses can be appraised by counting the number of rooms, taking in consideration wall-to-wall carpeting, and the square-footage. A house could be replaced with a certain amount of money. But a home is priceless and irreplaceable. Even when it is destroyed, it continues to exist in the minds of those who lived there.

To further illustrate the difference between “house” and “home:” we don’t call the White House, the “White Home,” because it is a temporary residence for the President and his family who will, at most, live there for eight years. It isn’t a dwelling where one could live out his entire childhood; or return to as a grown up to visit aging parents. The White House is already furnished with national treasures of historic value. There is no personal touch; living in the White House is like living in a museum. (After all, how many people come in your home?)

In advertisements, real estate agents and those who build houses don’t exactly refer to themselves as house builders or house brokers, because these two professions understand the power of the word “home.” When a realtor talks about how many “homes” he/she has sold, or a developer mentions how many “homes” this company has built, they are really distorting the connotation of the word. After all, a construction worker is not building a home. He will not live there; he is merely providing a potential home. The same is true of realtors. They are not selling homes, they are just offering the houses to people who would potentially like it to be their home.

People involved in these professions and any speaker of the English language should understand the power of the connotation of this word home, and how we value the sense of security and comfort a home provides, and a house cannot. Thus, we hear so many of the cliche sayings of our culture: “welcome home,” “home is where the heart is,” and “home sweet home.”

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