Learning idioms is a great way to become more fluent in a language. Idioms, which are turns of phrase (ways of speaking) that aren’t directly translatable and are usually unique to (special to) the language, are a great way to learn more about a language and a culture. English is chock full of (has many) idioms, especially house idioms!
There are many different house idioms and house-related idioms in English. You may not be aware of (know about) some of these house idioms, but they’re great to know if you want to speak more fluently. Keep reading to learn about some of our favorite house idioms in English!
A house of cards
Have you ever tried to make a house of cards? You do so by leaning two playing cards against each other so they stand up in the shape of a triangle, then placing horizontal (flat) cards on top, and stacking more triangle-shaped pairs of cards on top of that. Building a house of cards is very difficult because it can fall over very easily. This is where the idiom a house of cards comes from. This idiom means that a situation is very delicate and not very stable. Things can go wrong and fall apart very easily. Watch out that (make sure) you don’t build a house of cards in your own life!
- People said that the treaty between the two countries was a real house of cards. They didn’t trust each other and things could go wrong very easily.
- She built a house of cards in her life by telling so many lies to the people around her.
Bring the house down
Have you ever been to a concert that is so good and so much fun that by the end, everyone is on their feet, cheering, dancing, and singing along? If you have, then that musician really brought the house down! This phrase comes from the theater in the 1700s. The “house” was used to talk about a room full of people who gathered (got together) to watch a performance. When we use the idiom bring the house down, we are saying that a performance was so good that everyone in the venue (room, space where a performance takes place) was responding enthusiastically (like it a lot). I can think of a couple concerts I’ve been to where they have brought down the house! Can you?
- When the Beatles would perform, they would always bring down the house.
- I could hear the concert from my house last night. It sounds like they brought down the house!
To eat someone out of house and home
This is one of my favorite house idioms in English. Whenever I hear it, I think of teenage boys. Teenage boys can grow a lot in a short amount of time, so when they get home from school in the afternoon, they’re usually hungry. They may eat a lot of snacks, and a lot of food in general. Their parents may say that they’re eating them out of house and home! This house idiom, which was made popular by Shakespeare, means that someone eats so much, that all the money is being spent on food. So much so, that they can’t afford to pay for the house!
While this idiom definitely isn’t meant literally, parents of hungry teenagers may feel that it’s true!
- Whenever my son’s friends come over, I’m afraid they’re going to eat me out of house and home! They’re constantly snacking!
- He was so hungry after soccer practice that his mother complained that he was going to eat her out of house and home.
To get your house in order
Have you ever felt that your life is a bit of a mess? If so, then it may be time to get your house in order! This house idiom doesn’t just mean to clean your house (although that may be part of the process!), but rather to organize your life or your business so that things can run smoothly (work well). Sometimes all you need is a little re-organization to make things work better.
- Her accountant told her to get her house in order, if she didn’t want to lose her business.
- He realized that he had to get his house in order, if he wanted to be happy. He started looking for a new job and decided to make some small changes in his life.
Get along like a house on fire
Finally, this is another one of my favorite house idioms. I always think of a friend of mine when I hear it! A couple of years ago, an acquaintance of mine (someone I knew, but not well) brought a girl who was renting a room at his place to a party. This girl and I started talking and became friends almost immediately. We got along like a house on fire! Thankfully, this idiom has nothing to do with burning houses, but rather how much people like each other. If you get along like a house on fire, it means that you really like someone and you become friends very quickly. Have you ever met anyone like this?
- They met at a bar one night and got along like a house on fire. A week later, they were dating.
- We met at the park 10 years ago and got along like a house on fire. We’ve been friends ever since!
Do you know of any other house idioms in English? Which of these house idioms do you use most often? Share with us in the comments below!
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Erin Duffin lives in Hamburg, is an English teacher, blogger, yoga instructor, and loves going to a concert where they bring the house down!