1. The pavement or floor of brick, stone, or metal in a chimney, on which a fire is made; the floor of a fireplace; also, a corresponding part of a stove. There was a fire on the hearth burning before him. (Jer. Xxxvi. 22) Where fires thou find’st unraked and hearths unswept. There pinch the maids as blue as bilberry. (Shak)
2. The house itself, as the abode of comfort to its inmates and of hospitality to strangers; fireside.
3. (Science: chemistry) The floor of a furnace, on which the material to be heated lies, or the lowest part of a melting furnace, into which the melted material settles.
(Science: chemistry) hearth ends, fragments of lead ore ejected from the furnace by the blast. Hearth money, hearth penny Heorthpening, a tax formerly laid in England on hearths, each hearth (in all houses paying the church and poor rates) being taxed at two shillings; called also chimney money, etc. He had been importuned by the common people to relieve them from the . . . Burden of the hearth money. (Macaulay)
Origin: oe. Harthe, herth, herthe, as. Heor; akin to D. Haard, heerd, Sw. Hard, g. Herd; cf. Goth. Haori a coal, Icel. Hyrr embers, and L. Cremare to burn.