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Dr. Goodword
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Postby Dr. Goodword » Sat Mar 09, 2019 11:27 pm

• homely •

Pronunciation: hom-lee • Hear it!

Part of Speech: Adjective

Meaning: 1. Plain, simple, ordinary, not particularly good-looking, as a homely boy or couch. 2. Pertaining to the home and home life, as homely activities or skills.

Notes: No, this word doesn't mean "like a home" or "resembling a home". Its meaning has somehow slipped off course to mean "ordinary, mediocre". Homely is a regular adjective, which means it has a suffixed comparative homelier and superlative homeliest. The noun is homeliness, so don't forget to change the final Y to an I (i).

In Play: Generally, we reserve this word to refer to plain, ordinary things: "Rodney was a man with a homely face for which his thick wallet compensated nicely." We shouldn't, though, for the older meaning is still legitimate and the only adjective available for home: "Buster isn't one of your homely dogs: he loves to roam the neighborhood and beyond for days on end."

Word History: At the beginning of the industrial age, manufacturers prided themselves in the fact that factory-made goods were better than those made at home. Homely things came to be thought of as less than perfect, the origin of the first sense of homely. The word for home in Old English was ham "home, hometown", which explains why a small town (rather than a small pig's haunch) is called a hamlet today. German Heim, Swedish hem, and Danish hjem are all cousins. Lithuanian kaimas "village", and cemetery, from Greek koimeterion "sleeping place, dormitory" also come from the same original root, which meant "to lie down, rest". (Thank you, Peter Evans, of somewhere in Canada, for suggesting this interesting if homely Good Word.)
• The Good Dr. Goodword

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Re: Homely

Postby mmb16 » Sun Mar 10, 2019 9:09 pm

In Ireland, describing someone as homely means they make you feel at home, and doesn't pertain to looks. I was in Ireland visiting an elderly relative some years back, and when she described me as homely, she immediately had to explain that she found me to be very friendly.

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Re: Homely

Postby bnjtokyo » Mon Mar 11, 2019 5:18 am

"[Gandalf] answered 'Hidden somewhere ahead of us is the fair valley of Rivendell where Elrond lives in the Last Homely House. I sent a message by my friends, and we are expected.' That sounded nice and comforting, but . . . it was not so easy as it sounds to find the Last Homely House west of the Mountains."
-- The Hobbit, Chapter 3

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