I'm reading The Versions of Us by Laura Barnett. One character's husband is suffering from Parkinson's disease and:

"She pictured herself leaving, handing his care over to a nurse of whom they could expect no more than a distant, anonymous kindness; leaving him in a hospital somewhere, reassuring herself with that terrible euphemism ‘home’."

I don't understand what "reassuring herself with that terrible euphemism ‘home’ " means. The dictionary says that euphemism is "a mild, indirect, or vague term for one that is considered harsh, blunt, or offensive." But in this sentence, is "home" a mild term for hospital or what? Does this mean that she's trying to lie to herself that hospital can also be a home? Can anybody explain its meaning for me?


The author is struggling with placing her husband, the person she married and who's children she (possibly) bore, into institutional care. After this is done, the new facility will become his new home from which he will only leave once.

The terrible euphemism used for the care facility is home.
A euphemism is using a word which is nice or good to describe something which is not.

The melody in the air

when used to describe a foul smell is a euphemism.

Nursing home
Care home

are euphemisms for institutional care.

She will tell her friends:

I've found a new home for him
We've put him in a nice new home

still referring to where he lives with the same moniker as if life continued unchanged. But she will know deep down that the facility is not as warm or comforting as their real home was.

However, the wife is trying to find comfort in calling the new institution home

A recent trend, due to the significant aging population, is home care or home health care where medical professional come to the patient's home rather than the patient moving into a care facility.


In context, she's alluding to the compound noun phrase...

nursing home - a place where people who are old or who are unable to take care of themselves can live and be taken care of

The implication being that where the couple currently live is their...

home - the place in which one's domestic affections are centered

...but a commercially-run care establishment has no connection to "one's domestic affections".

  • By the way, I notice that the author, Laura Barnett, is from the UK; she may have been thinking of the phrase care home instead, but it works either way.
    – stangdon
    Feb 17 '16 at 17:50
  • @stangdon: Feasibly. But even sticking to just the BrE corpus, Google NGrams supports my gut feel that care home is far less common than nursing home. Feb 17 '16 at 18:44

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