Where does the word “Heirloom” come from and What does Heirloom mean?

Sad might you be if told that, as heir to your grandfather’s estate, the only things you would receive after all taxes were paid would be “all my various looms,” but it might be far better than you think.

The old gentleman may have been testing your knowledge of Scottish or northern English dialect and used an old, old meaning that survives only in those areas.

A loom, that is, might just possibly include the mechanical device used for weaving, but in its earliest meaning a thousand years ago it included all implements, tools, and household items of any kind, everything other than real estate.

Such were the original heirlooms, but that sense has long since been lost and the term has degenerated into a coverall for any item of whatever nature that has been in a family for two or more generations.

About Karen Hill

Karen Hill is a freelance writer, editor, and columnist. Born in New York, her work has appeared in the Examiner, Yahoo News, Buzzfeed, among others.

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