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"person from one's hometown," 1940s, American English, black slang, also originally with overtones of "simpleton." With many variants (cf. homebuddy, homeslice, both 1980s, with meaning shading toward "good friend"). The word had been used by Ruskin (1886) with the sense "stay-at-home male," and it was Canadian slang for "boy brought up in an orphanage or other institution" (1913).