bring down the house, to call forth vigorous applause from an audience; be highly successful: The children's performances brought down the house.
    clean house. clean(def 47).
    dress the house, Theater.
    1. to fill a theater with many people admitted on free passes; paper the house.
    2. to arrange or space the seating of patrons in such a way as to make an audience appear larger or a theater or nightclub more crowded than it actually is.
    keep house, to maintain a home; manage a household.
    like a house on fire/afire, very quickly; with energy or enthusiasm: The new product took off like a house on fire.
    on the house, as a gift from the management; free: Tonight the drinks are on the house.
    put/set one's house in order,
    1. to settle one's affairs.
    2. to improve one's behavior or correct one's faults: It is easy to criticize others, but it would be better to put one's own house in order first.

Origin of house

before 900; (noun) Middle English h(o)us, Old English hūs; cognate with Dutch huis, Low German huus, Old Norse hūs, German Haus, Gothic -hūs (in gudhūs temple); (v.) Middle English housen, Old English hūsian, derivative of the noun
Related formssub·house, nounwell-housed, adjective
Can be confusedhome house (see synonym study at the current entry)

Synonyms for house

1. domicile. House, dwelling, residence, home are terms applied to a place to live in. Dwelling is now chiefly poetic, or used in legal or technical contexts, as in a lease or in the phrase multiple dwelling. Residence is characteristic of formal usage and often implies size and elegance of structure and surroundings: the private residence of the king. These two terms and house have always had reference to the structure to be lived in. Home has recently taken on this meaning and become practically equivalent to house, the new meaning tending to crowd out the older connotations of family ties and domestic comfort. See also hotel. Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

British Dictionary definitions for like a house afire


noun the House

British informal the Stock Exchange


noun (haʊs) plural houses (ˈhaʊzɪz)

  1. a building used as a home; dwelling
  2. (as modifier)house dog
the people present in a house, esp its usual occupants
  1. a building used for some specific purpose
  2. (in combination)a schoolhouse
(often capital) a family line including ancestors and relatives, esp a noble onethe House of York
  1. a commercial company; firma publishing house
  2. (as modifier)house style; a house journal
an official deliberative or legislative body, such as one chamber of a bicameral legislature
a quorum in such a body (esp in the phrase make a house)
a dwelling for a religious community
astrology any of the 12 divisions of the zodiacSee also planet (def. 3)
  1. any of several divisions, esp residential, of a large school
  2. (as modifier)house spirit
  1. a hotel, restaurant, bar, inn, club, etc, or the management of such an establishment
  2. (as modifier)house rules
  3. (in combination)steakhouse
(modifier) (of wine) sold unnamed by a restaurant, at a lower price than wines specified on the wine listthe house red
the audience in a theatre or cinema
an informal word for brothel
a hall in which an official deliberative or legislative body meets
curling the 12-foot target circle around the tee
nautical any structure or shelter on the weather deck of a vessel
bring the house down theatre to win great applause
house and home an emphatic form of home
keep open house to be always ready to provide hospitality
like a house on fire informal very well, quickly, or intensely
on the house (usually of drinks) paid for by the management of the hotel, bar, etc
put one's house in order to settle or organize one's affairs
safe as houses British very secure

verb (haʊz)

(tr) to provide with or serve as accommodation
to give or receive shelter or lodging
(tr) to contain or cover, esp in order to protect
(tr) to fit (a piece of wood) into a mortise, joint, etc
(tr) nautical
  1. to secure or stow
  2. to secure (a topmast)
  3. to secure and stow (an anchor)
Derived Formshouseless, adjective

Word Origin for house

Old English hūs; related to Old High German hūs, Gothic gudhūs temple, Old Norse hūs house
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012

Word Origin and History for like a house afire



Old English hus "dwelling, shelter, house," from Proto-Germanic *husan (cf. Old Norse, Old Frisian hus, Dutch huis, German Haus), of unknown origin, perhaps connected to the root of hide (v.) [OED]. In Gothic only in gudhus "temple," literally "god-house;" the usual word for "house" in Gothic being razn.

Meaning "family, including ancestors and descendants, especially if noble" is from c.1000. The legislative sense (1540s) is transferred from the building in which the body meets. Meaning "audience in a theater" is from 1660s (transferred from the theater itself, cf. playhouse); as a dance club DJ music style, probably from the Warehouse, a Chicago nightclub where the style is said to have originated. Zodiac sense is first attested late 14c. To play house is from 1871; as suggestive of "have sex, shack up," 1968. House arrest first attested 1936. On the house "free" is from 1889.

And the Prophet Isaiah the sonne of Amos came to him, and saide vnto him, Thus saith the Lord, Set thine house in order: for thou shalt die, and not liue. [2 Kings xx:1, version of 1611]



"give shelter to," Old English husian "to take into a house" (cognate with German hausen, Dutch huizen); see house (n.). Related: Housed; housing.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

Idioms and Phrases with like a house afire

like a house afire

see under get along, def. 1.


In addition to the idiom beginning with house

  • house of cards

also see:

  • boardinghouse reach
  • bring down the house
  • clean house
  • eat someone out of house and home
  • get on (like a house afire)
  • keep house
  • on the house
  • open house
  • people who live in glass houses
  • put one's house in order
  • safe as houses
The American Heritage® Idioms Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company.