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Maybe I’m going out on a limb here, but I’d venture to guess that it doesn’t surprise anyone that history fascinates me. Whether it’s the history of a region, an object, a family, or even a word, I just can’t get enough. I love thinking about long-gone ancestors living lives that were every bit as full and meaningful as ours are today, and parsing out their life stories from what they’ve left behind for us. I think my natural love of history and stories of the past probably helped to inspire the creation of Heirloom Vault, and it continues to intrigue me.
But it’s funny…not long ago I realized I didn’t know the history of the word “heirloom” itself. I knew the definitions of the two words “heir” and “loom” separately, of course, but had never really considered the combination. Just a little research yielded interesting information.
Not to be confused with entomology (the study of insects), etymology is the study of the history of words. So, what is the history of the compound word “heirloom, ” and how did it come to be?
Most of us know that an “heir” is someone who inherits something, for instance the British throne. A princess or queen is said to have done well if she has two sons, thus providing the monarchy with “an heir and a spare,” the saying goes.
And a “loom” is a sort of a frame used for weaving – not a very common thing to leave one’s heirs, I wouldn’t think, at least not these days.
A Loom by any Other Name
It turns out that I was missing a crucial piece of information about the origins of the word “loom.” It came from the Middle English word “lome” which meant “tool.” A loom is indeed a type of tool, and throughout much of history, one’s tools would have been their most valuable possessions – something they surely would’ve wanted to pass on to their heirs.
A Tool For Remembering
I wanted to share this little discovery experience with you, but not because it’s particularly interesting. While it’s certainly not groundbreaking, I thought it was a useful way to illustrate a simple point – an heirloom is a tool. No matter its monetary worth or lack thereof, an heirloom is a tool for remembering, for cherishing, and for sharing with family. And that’s what Heirloom Vault is, as well. I created this digital space for you as a free tool for sharing your family stories and family history, and for saving family memories online for future generations. I’m hoping you’ll join us here in crafting remembrances for both yourself and those you love the most.