home musings

Victor Steinbok aardvark66 at GMAIL.COM
Sat Jun 9 14:45:10 UTC 2012

I got distracted by a headline:

Usain Bolt storms home to pip Powell in Oslo

I was wondering if this is a covered meaning and this is the closest I

home, n.1 and adj.
> 9. a. /Sport/ and /Games/. (The name of) the place where a team or
> player is free from attack by the opposition; the point which one
> tries to reach; the goal.

This is close, but not quite right. The examples cited indicate that
this is a formalistic interpretation--the reference is to something
specifically designated as "home", so "the goal", in this case, is
actually labeled "home". In the Bolt article, the designation is for a
win. Similar usage occurs in description of a touchdown (in American
football), perhaps in rugby (try), and in soccer (football), when
commentators say that X player or, more specifically, a player's shot,
"found home" (by scoring). I initially wondered if this was an extension
of "home run", but the British use precludes this possibility.

It also seems that "bring it home" (win), "find home" (score, similar to
"find target" or "find goal") are idiomatic or very close to idiomatic,
in the context of winning or scoring (perhaps from horse racing for the
former, just like "home stretch"?). These are not entirely sports
metaphors. A missile can be said to have "found home" by striking a
target. A somewhat different usage is already covered, but not as a phrase:

wizardry 1.b.
> 1861 S. Thomson /Wanderings among Wild Flowers/ (ed. 4) iii. 239   All
> the witcheries and wizardries that found home in the imaginations of
> the people.

This one is merely an extension of home n.1 A. 4., so there are a couple
of different "find home" variants, with the sports/military version
being derived from the more basic one.

>  4. A refuge, a sanctuary; a place or region to which one naturally
> belongs or where one feels at ease. Also without article or possessive
> (cf. note at sense A. 2b).

"Bring it home" can also have its twists and turns.

Yellow, adj. and n. 1.d.
> 1913 /Punch/ 19 Feb. 138/3   Believers in the Yellow Peril who wish
> everyone else to realise the importance of that menace are proposing
> to bring it home by means of All Yellow Suppers.

Racing motor car, under Racing, n.2
> 1901 /North Adams (Mass.) Transcript/ (Electronic text) 5 Dec.,   He
> shortly afterward invested in a big racing motor car and went to the
> builders to bring it home himself.

fly-away A. adj. a.
> 1891 /Pall Mall Gaz./ 21 May 2/2   They have brought it home to the
> most flyaway supporter of the A.P.S.

[I'm actually not convinced that either one of the above three  is not
merely the straight meaning parsed directly from each word.] These,
however, stand out.

home adv. 4.d.
> 1935 B. Malinowski /Coral Gardens & Magic/ II. vi. vi. 357   The real
> problem before us: ... how to bring home the real meaning of a
> meaningless, or at least distorted word.
> 1996 S. Robinson /Callahan's Legacy/ ix. 158   Nothing else could have
> brought it home to me so clearly that my pain was Eddie's, and Eddie's
> pain was mine.

Both of these can also be viewed as similar to "hit home" and "strike
home", or "hit close to home" even. But that's not quite the OED listings:

to strike home, under strike v.
>  1. (See home adv. 4) /intr./ To make an effective stroke or thrust
> with a weapon or tool. Said also of a weapon or stroke.
>  2. Of words, etc.: To tell powerfully; to produce a strong impression.

hit v.
>  8. /fig./ a. To affect the conscience, feelings, comfort, prosperity,
> etc. of (any one) in a way analogous to physical hitting; to affect
> sensibly, painfully, or injuriously; to smite, wound, hurt. to hit
> home: cf. home adv. 4.

Indeed, strike home 2. is almost there. Hit v. 8. points to the same
home adv. 4.d. above, just as strike home 1. does. But there is nothing
comparable under bring v. And the "close to home" variant is not coupled
with any particular verb.

home, n.1 and adj. B.
>  9. close (also near) to home: (/fig./) so as to affect one
> personally; (so as to be) unsettlingly applicable to oneself.


The American Dialect Society - http://www.americandialect.org

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