Tuesday, July 9, 2019

Not “home”

It’s startling to see a The New York Times article refer to Jeffrey Epstein’s 71st Street mansion as a “home.” Just one sample:

The townhouse where the financier Jeffrey Epstein is accused of engaging in sex acts with underage girls is one of the largest private homes in Manhattan, a short walk from Central Park.
No, it’s one of the largest private residences in Manhattan. The article I’ve quoted from calls this building a “home” ten times. The article also calls Epstein’s residence in Palm Beach a “home.”

As Garner’s Modern English Usage notes, “In the best usage, the structure is always called a house.” And: “The word home connotes familial ties.” To apply the word to a structure is a tacky realtor move. To apply the word to structures given over to sexual exploitation and trafficking is beyond grotesque.

Epstein is now living in a new “home,” larger but also much smaller than 9 E. 71st Street. If he’s denied bail and found guilty, he’ll be in that new “home” (aka “the big house”) for quite some time. Here’s hoping.

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comments: 6

Slywy said...

I'm glad I'm not the only person who deplores the use of "home" for "house." Many "homes" I see for sale or being built are in cookie-cutter subdivisions and don't have a "home" feel at all.

As kids we used "house" for "home." "Do you wanna play at my house? My mom'll let us have Kool-Aid." "House" in this case was a trailer or a camper. I still find myself using "house" to describe apartments, as in, "My house is a mess."

The only type of context in which I'd naturally use "home" would be something like, "I'd feel at home here." I'd still say, "You have a nice house" or "I like the way you've decorated your house."

I know a Realtor ® or two. They love their "homes." (One used to let me know often how silly it is to rent, but did give up after awhile.)

Michael Leddy said...

“House” for “apartment” has a long history in my family. There’s also “house” for “apartment house” itself, as in The Honeymooners: “The whole house has gone crazy!”

Respect for knowing that Realtor is trademarked. They do have beautiful homes.

Anonymous said...

One thing in the article that got me was the description of the house decor, which includes a wall of fake eyeballs originally intended for wounded British soldiers...Creepy, very creepy!

Daughter Number Three said...

There's a bit of a tug-of-war between single-family-home (i.e., house) residents and people who advocate for more multi-family housing, including the so-called missing middle of duplexes, triplexes, and four-plexes, over using "home" to mean anywhere someone lives regardless of format. So an apartment is a home, or a new building might be adding six homes.

There's also the problem that "residence" sounds cold and formal, while "house" is friendly and informal, but brings with it the automatic mental picture of a single-family dwelling.

Dwelling. Now there's a word we could use more often.

Michael Leddy said...

I guess I think of “home” as something made by one or more people living in a place.

Duplexes and beyond are very familiar to me from Boston. Much less common where I am now.

Michael Leddy said...

He had cameras, it’s said, all over the place. I wonder if the eyeballs were a private joke.