No one is paying attention, as in She threw the ball right past him, yelling “Nobody home!”
The person being discussed is mentally impaired and so cannot understand, as in When the woman did not answer, he concluded it was a case of nobody home. Both usages transfer the absence of someone in a dwelling to absent-mindedness or mental deficiency, and are thought to have been invented by cartoonist and journalist Thomas Aloysius Dorgan (“TAD”) around 1900. He often embellished his column with such punning amplifications as “Nobody home but the telephone and that's in the hands of the receiver,” or “Nobody home but the oyster and that's in the stew.”
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Example sentences from the Web for nobody home
That officer fretting about his “stance,” we learn, is plagued by PTSD that cripples him both on the job and at home.'Babylon' Review: The Dumb Lives of Trigger-Happy Cops|Melissa Leon|January 9, 2015|DAILY BEAST
So, Islamized teaching sends girls back home for marriage and housework, and remains exclusively for boys.Houellebecq’s Incendiary Novel Imagines France With a Muslim President|Pierre Assouline|January 9, 2015|DAILY BEAST
Meanwhile, almost exactly 30 years after the trial, the judge left his home to board a steamboat and was never heard from again.New York’s Most Tragic Ghost Loves Minimalist Swedish Fashion|Nina Strochlic|January 8, 2015|DAILY BEAST
There was nobody that I read who was like, “This is just… whatever.”‘Archer’ Creator Adam Reed Spills Season 6 Secrets, From Surreal Plotlines to Life Post-ISIS|Marlow Stern|January 8, 2015|DAILY BEAST
The FBI raided his home in 2000 with an affidavit questioning his use of $200,000 from his white supremacist fundraising.
It was with a feeling of relief on both sides that the arrival of Mr. Haggard, of the Home Office, was announced.The Pit Town Coronet, Volume I (of 3)|Charles James Wills
In the entrance hall of the Savoy, where large and lonely porters were dozing, he learnt that she was at home.Bella Donna|Robert Hichens
I've never had time to write home about it, for I felt that it required a dissertation in itself to do it justice.Music-Study in Germany|Amy Fay
He was aware that his act by this time, had helped nobody, had made no one happy or satisfied—not even himself.The Homesteader|Oscar Micheaux
Now and then the boy who had bought Squinty, and who was taking him home, would look around at his pet in the slatted box.Squinty the Comical Pig|Richard Barnum