🏡Home as a…verb?

This week, we’re addressing a mistake that’s very common in both writing and speaking: “hone in.” You probably hear (or say) it often. Well, if you want to be ~that person~, next time you hear someone say “hone in,” you can inform them it’s actually home in. That’s right, home not hone. “Home in on” means to move toward or direct attention to something, while “hone” is a synonym for “refine” or “improve.”

Home as a verb is actually a relatively young word, dating back to 1765 when it meant “to return or go home.” It’s since evolved to be used mainly to describe animal behaviors: think “homing pigeon.” But the verb is still used in the common phrase “home in on.”

A screenshot of a message from Stylebot on Slack that reads: The phrase is "home in," not "hone in": "He always wanted to go to Penn, so he homed in on getting admitted there, putting less effort into his other college applications." In addition to its more familiar meanings, "home" is also a verb that means to move toward or direct attention to something. Meanwhile, "hone" means to sharpen or make more effective.

The confusion of “home” and “hone” in this context is understandable, and this distinction might end up fading away altogether, given that a language evolves based on how people actually use it. And, as we’ve covered before, these types of misinterpretations and misuses are relatively common. But, for the time being, if you want to hone your skills, start using “home in.”

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