The origin of this proverb is unclear, however the first written instances of ‘home is where the heart is’ appear in the mid-nineteenth century.
Perhaps the earliest of all is in a work by Joseph Neal in 1847. However, some people believe that the phrase was said earlier, in the mid seventeenth century, by the jurist Edmund Coke.
It has also been used (later) by famous authors like Robert Burns and Anthony Burgess. Nowadays, people often use it without being aware of the origin.
This proverb, ‘home is where the heart is’, can be interpreted in two different ways. As each of these interpretations is in common use, it is worthwhile looking at them both, each in turn.
Firstly, it can mean that “wherever our loved ones are, that is our home”. Thus, wherever a person’s heart is will be our true home. Thus, no matter where someone was born or grew up, their real home is the place that they care about most in the world. This place may or may not be the place that they grew up in.
Secondly, it can mean that “our love (our ‘heart’) is focused around the family home”. It means “no matter where we are, we will always feel deep love and affection for our home“. A person’s heart will always be at home. This means that their love, affection and fond memories will always be tied to the place that they live.
Note: There are differences of cause and effect in each interpretation. In the first, love makes us feel at home. In the second, home makes us feel love.
This is a very common proverb. It has made its way into popular culture, too. For example, the song ‘Driftwood’ features this proverb as a line.
At home we are with our loved ones. The sweet memories of our home are deep ingrained in our heart. We can never ever forget our home in our life.
Alternate interpretation suggests, a home is not just wherever we grew up – it is where we feel most at home. This proverb captures the comforting feel of being at home. Our world (inner being) surrounds around our loved ones, i.e., persons we love from the bottom of our heart. We feel at home whenever we are with someone for whom we feel love in our heart. In this scenario, the physical place of our home is irrelevant. Rather, it focuses on the feeling of being at home or the comfort of being at home.
No matter how this proverb is interpreted, there is no denying that it centers around the idea that a home is not just the bricks and mortar of a house or apartment. Rather, it is somewhere that is intimately tied to our emotions.
To summarize, then, this proverb signifies that:
- A person’s home is defined by what and whom they love.
- What a person loves can be described as their home.
Some commentators suggest that this proverb originated in an earlier proverb: i.e. ‘home is where the hearth is’. The hearth is the fireplace. This earlier version of the proverb is based on the idea that the fire that provides warmth is the true focus of a home. It is possible that the warmth of the fire came to be thought of as a metaphor for the warmth of love.
The importance/significance of the proverb ‘home is where heart is’ is suggested below in points.
- Celebrating family: This proverb encapsulates the importance of a warm and supportive family life.
- Capturing the versatility of what a home is: Some people consider a house shared with friends to be a true home, for others it will always be the place where they grew up or their apartment they share with their house. This proverb applies to all these situations!
- Explaining the importance of a real home: A real home, as this proverb indicates, is not just a physical building. Rather, a home is about the relationships that we develop with the other people who dwell in that building.
- Equality: Some houses are bigger or richer than others. However, this proverb emphasizes that only a loving home is a true home – and in this way it breaks down barriers between rich and poor.
- Choosing where to settle down: In one interpretations, this saying emphasizes that it’s our love that creates a true home. When you are choosing where to live, or whom to live with, it is worthwhile remembering this proverb: choose the place where your heart lies.
‘Home is where the heart is’ is a proverb that perfectly captures the importance of having a loving home. Hence, home and love go hand in hand with this proverb.