'belonging to the household'

(Modern English homely)


Formally, this word is native, formed from ME hōm (< OE hām) + adjectival suffix. Goll (alone, with the possibility cautiously included by McGee 370) however suggests some ON input, pointing out that such an adj. doesn't exist in OE and glossing the instance in Pe as 'belonging to the household, intimate', a sense in keeping with OIcel heimuligr 'private, belonging to the household' (he compares the phrases 'hans heimuligt fólk' and 'heimuligr clerkr' and notes 'in Scottish the word is still common in this sense') (see also hemely). Whether the context really requires such a sense is debatable, and comparison of the independent sense development of parallel adjective formations in various Gmc languages indicates that the need to adduce direct input is perhaps unnecessary regardless (see OED).

PGmc Ancestor


Proposed ON Etymon (OIcel representative)

heimuligr 'private, belonging to the household'
(ONP heimuligr (adj.))

Other Scandinavian Reflexes

Norw heimeleg, ODan hemmelig , hiemmelig, Dan hemmelig, OSw hemeliker , hemelikin , hemelig, Sw hemelig

OE Cognate

cp. hām (n.) 'village, dwelling, home'

Phonological and morphological markers

Summary category




Common and widespread from the late 14c.

Occurrences in the Gersum Corpus

Pe 1211


MED hōmlī (adj.) , OED homely (adj.) , HTOED , de Vries heimiligr, Mag. heimileg(u)r, heimu(g)legur