broken home


a family in which one parent is absent, usually due to divorce or desertion: children from broken homes.

Origin of broken home

First recorded in 1840–50

historical usage of broken home

The term broken home entered English in the mid-1800s to cover the absence of one parent for any unfortunate reason, including prolonged illness, incarceration, or extreme poverty. Use of the term rose during the first half of the 20th century, peaking in the 1950s, but began to decline by the 1970s. As the stigma surrounding divorce (and even single parenthood by choice) decreased, less negative terms emerged. For example, it is preferable to use single-parent family or single-parent household , because these terms lack the built-in negative associations of broken home . See single-parent. Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2020