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"action of going home," 1765, in reference to pigeons, from present participle of home (v.). Homing pigeon attested by 1868.
Old English ham "dwelling, house, estate, village," from Proto-Germanic *haimaz (cf. Old Frisian hem "home, village," Old Norse heimr "residence, world," heima "home," Danish hjem, Middle Dutch heem, German heim "home," Gothic haims "village"), from PIE root *tkei- "to settle, dwell, be home" (cf. Sanskrit kseti "abides, dwells," Armenian shen "inhabited," Greek kome, Lithuanian kaimas "village;" Old Church Slavonic semija "domestic servants").
'Home' in the full range and feeling of [Modern English] home is a conception that belongs distinctively to the word home and some of its Gmc. cognates and is not covered by any single word in most of the IE languages. [Buck]Home stretch (1841) is originally a reference from horse racing. Home base in baseball attested by 1859 (home plate by 1867; home as the goal in a sport or game is from 1778). Home economics first attested 1899. Slang phrase make (oneself) at home "become comfortable in a place one does not live" dates from 1892. To keep the home fires burning is from a song title from 1914. To be nothing to write home about "unremarkable" is from 1907. Home movie is from 1919; home computer is from 1967.
ability of certain animals to return to a given place when displaced from it, often over great distances. The major navigational clues used by homing animals seem to be the same as those used in migration (sun angle, star patterns, etc.), but homing may occur in any compass direction and at any season. The best-known examples of strong homing ability are among birds, particularly racing, or homing, pigeons; many other birds, especially seabirds and also swallows, are known to have equal or better homing abilities. A Manx shearwater (Puffinus puffinus), transported in a closed container to a point about 5,500 km (3,400 miles) from its nest, returned to the nest in 12 12 days.