70 “Home” Idioms and Expressions

By Mark Nichol

1. A man’s home is his castle: a sentiment that a man should have freedom to do what he wants in his home (originally “An Englishman’s home is his castle”)
2. A woman’s place is in the home: a largely outdated notion that a woman’s activities should be limited to child-rearing and housekeeping
3. At home: comfortable or proficient in an endeavor, matching or suitable for an environment, or competing in an athletic event at the team’s own facility rather than while visiting another team
4. Bring home: make clearly appreciated or understood (usually said of something unpleasant)
5. Bring home the bacon: earn a wage, or be successful
6. Charity begins at home: a sentiment that one should take care of family and friends before offering aid to others
7–8: Chickens will/have come home to roost: said as an admonition that actions have consequences
9. Close to home: deeply affecting one’s feelings
10. Come home: said of something (often, an unpleasant realization) becoming clear to someone
11. Come home to roost: return to cause trouble, in an analogy to chickens returning to their coop at the end of the day
12. Down-home: simple, as in something typical of traditional rural life
13–15. Drive/hammer/ram home: emphasize, often by repeating
16-17. Go big/hard, or go home: a slang expression meaning “Put effort into something, or give up trying”
18. Go home and get (one’s) beauty sleep: said jocularly of or by one who must depart early, facetiously because of the necessity of getting enough rest to avoid being considered unattractive because of sleep deprivation
19. Go home in a box: be sent home after death (box refers to a coffin)
20. Go home to mama: give up on marriage or a relationship, from the notion of returning home to live with one’s mother, with the implication of defeat and humiliation
21. Hearth and home: one’s home and family
22. Hit (one) where one lives: affect someone personally
23–24: Hit/strike home: make sense, cause awareness or acceptance of an idea
25–26. Home and dry/hosed: to have completed an activity or project (British English and Australian English, respectively)
27. Home away from home: a place one is visiting that is as comfortable and welcoming as one’s own home
28–33. Home boy/home girl/homeslice/holmes/homes/homie: a person with whom one is very close (from the notion that one grew up in the same neighborhood as that person)
34. Home free: certain of success because the most difficult phase of a task has been completed
35. Home game: an athletic event hosted by a team at its facility
36. Home ground/turf: the environment one has grown up in and is comfortable in
37. Home in on: literally or figuratively aim toward
38. Home is where (one) hangs (one’s) hat: the practical notion that one’s home is where one lives, as distinct from the sentimental notion of home
39. Home is where the heart is: a proverb conveying that one is most comfortable living where (or with whom) one wants to be
40. Home run: a successful endeavor, from an analogy with scoring a run in baseball that entitles one to safely round the bases and return to home plate
41–42. Home straight/stretch: the final phase of a difficult activity, from an analogy with the last portion of a horse race
43. Home sweet home: an expression of relief that one has returned to the comfort of home after an extended absence
44. Home truth: an unpleasant fact difficult to acknowledge or admit
45. Home, James: a passenger’s humorous exhortation to a driver to bring the passenger home swiftly (originally, “Home, James, and don’t spare the horses,” from the notion that James is a common name for a carriage driver)
46. Homesick: feeling uncomfortable about being away from home
47. Homework: practice of learning exercises; figuratively, preparation for an event or eventuality, or acquisition of practical knowledge
48. Keep the home fires burning: maintain a household in good order while one is away (perhaps at war)
49. Leave home: set out to live apart from one’s parents
50. The longest way around is the shortest way home: a proverb expressing that doing something painstakingly saves time because doing it carelessly may require that it be done over
51. Make yourself at home: a host’s exhortation to a visitor to encourage the person to feel comfortable and behave as if he or she lives there
52. Money from home: something welcome, or, in underworld slang, easily obtained money or goods (comparable to “Like taking candy from a baby”), from the notion of receiving money from one’s family when one is living or traveling abroad
53–58. Not something/anything, or nothing much, to write home about/worth writing home about: uneventful, from the notion that something that happened is not worth informing one’s family about
59. See (one) home: escort someone to his or her residence
60. Stay-at-home: said of a parent who does not work outside the home
61–62. Take (one’s) ball/toys and go home: said in figurative reference to a person petulantly abandoning an activity with necessary implements, thereby inconveniencing the remaining participants
63. Take home: retain a concept, idea, or thought conveyed at a conference or an educational event
64. The lights are on, but nobody’s home: said of an unintelligent person, from the comparison of the person’s “empty” head with a vacant house
65. There’s no place like home: a sentiment that home is the most satisfying place to be
66. Till the cows come home: an exaggeration meaning “for a long time,” from the notion of cows returning to the barn from the pasture at the end of the day
67–68. What is/who is (someone or something) when it’s (or he’s or she’s) at home?: a fanciful way of asking, “Who (or “what”) is that?” (British and Australian English)
69. Yankee go home: an expression of anti-American sentiment
70. You can’t go home again: the sentiment that once one leaves home, one is changed and conditions will not be the same

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7 Responses to “70 “Home” Idioms and Expressions”

  • Dale A. Wood

    HOMEBREW !
    Why didn’t we think of this before!?
    Homebrew can be homemade wine, beer, ale, rum, moonshine,…

  • Dale A. Wood

    homing pigeon, homing missile, homing torpedo, homing salmon, and especially one of the best surface-to-air missiles of the U.S. Army, the U.S. Marine Corps, and our allied armies and air forces:
    The HAWK = “Homing All-the-Way Killer”.
    This one was a radar-guided missile developed by the U.S. Army Missile Command and then produced by many aerospace companies.
    The HAWK is right up there with the Sidewinder, Sparrow, Maverick, Harpoon, and AMRAAM in its wide production and deployment, and in the case of the HAWK and the Harpoon, its little use in combat because it was so good.

  • Dale A. Wood

    Home plate, home field, home court, home ice, home rink, home airfield, homeport,…

  • Dale A. Wood

    “To come home in one piece.” Said of travelers, soldiers, sailors, Marines, policemen, firemen, etc., who go in harms way and return w/o being seriously wounded or killed, and not missing an arm, leg, hand, foot, eye, or HEAD!
    This ESPECIALLY applies to all aviators and spacefarers, in wartime or peacetime. This goes hand-in-hand with this statement, “Any landing that you can walk away from is a good one.”
    The great American aviator Jimmy Doolittle wrote his autobiography late in his life: “I Could Never Be This Lucky Again”. In it, he told of the many airplane crashes and parachute jumps that he was in, but he recovered from them all. He even set world records in a devilish little airplane (back before 1940) called the “Gee Bee”. That was a small airplane with a huge radial engine, and it killed several of its pilots.
    Another great aviator was Eddie Rickenbacker. He was out leading ace fighter pilot during World War I, and then he was a civilian pilot, and then the president of Eastern Air Lines, and a consultant with the Army Air Forces during WW II (one who got shot down). Rickenbacker was in so many crashes that he said this about the last time he broke his nose: “It was a good thing because this time it healed back on straight!”

  • Dale A. Wood

    “Home school”. Twice, I taught in summer school at a community college in Chicagoland (a math course differential equations).
    Many of my students had home schools like these:
    The Univ. of Illinois, Purdue Univ., Iowa State Univ., the Univ. of Wisconsin, Drake University.
    These were pleasant students in engineering, physics, and chemistry: when I showed them and told them what to do, they did it. Difficult homework problems.
    Here is what they were doing. They were living in their parents’ homes for the summertime to save money. Also, earning a bachelor’s degree in these fields – w/o summers – often takes five years. They were taking a few courses, in community colleges, every summer to try to complete their degrees in four calendar years.
    I also found out that my college – my class – was the only one offering differential equations in Chicagoland in the summertime!
    This means no other community colleges, and not the Univ. of Illinois – Chicago Circle, Univ. of Chicago, Chicago State Univ., DePaul, I.I.T., Loyola-Univ.-Chicago, Northwestern, Wheaton College,… or anyone in southern Wisconsin or northwestern Indiana.
    I felt a little bit special, and I put special effort in making sure to teach my students very well.

  • Dale A. Wood

    home street, hometown, home city, home state, home province, home rule, home country, homeland, home planet.
    Kentucky home, home on the range, summer home, winter home, vacation home. “Heldenheim” (the home of the heroes).

  • venqax

    Homemade: Made at home, or like made at home, not by a factory or commercial plant.

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