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Is it a 成语? I'm wondering about its range of meanings.

One source suggests, "use the rhetorical tone to indicate that you have no time or no mood to think about your family problems."

Another says, "usually said during a national crisis." Is that sarcastic, i.e., the crisis threatens to make you homeless?

Would "何以家为?" be appropriate when someone (who doesn't understand a nomadic lifestyle) is a bit pushy about asking for my address?

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Would "何以家为?" be appropriate when someone (who doesn't understand a nomadic lifestyle) is a bit pushy about asking for my address?

The answer is no. In fact, it doesn't need an answer for it at all.

Your first interpretation is correct. It's a rather rhetorical question. 何以家为 is used to express that you would not consider to form/build your family till you could really achieve something you think more important. For example, 男人事业不成,何以为家?!; 匈奴不灭,何以家为?!; etc.

  • So I would never say 我是旅行者; 何以家为?or 我是流浪者; 何以家为?or 我旅行; 何以家为?(?) The phrase uses 家 in the sense of 'family' and not 'house'? (My family is grown up; I sold the house because it is no longer important, and travel is important.) – 伟思礼 Feb 1 '18 at 8:10
  • @伟思礼 Those sentences sound odd. 我是旅行者,何以为家 might be ok, but that is not what we normally say. Usually 何以为家 is used to express one's determination. – dan Feb 1 '18 at 8:23
  • What would a roamer like me say to a bank or government official who thinks I must be lying because EVERYBODY has a house they live in? – 伟思礼 Feb 1 '18 at 9:11
  • @伟思礼 but at least, you should have some place to stay. You can use that address instead. It's not unusual that people don't have a house or apartment, and they just rent one all the time. – dan Feb 1 '18 at 10:39
  • Sometimes it's a hostel I am headed for and don't know the address. Sometimes the hostel is full and I go elsewhere. Once, an AirBNB place was such a garbage dump that I took a train to the opposite end of Ireland and slept on the train. Sometimes I just find a place to put up my tent. Three times in three years, I slept in the airport (and I've seen dozens of others doing the same). But all of this isn't really relevant to the original question which you have answered. – 伟思礼 Feb 1 '18 at 10:46

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