House Idioms In English

There are many English idioms that use the word house, home or other house-related words. English-speaking people tend to think of their homes as their “castles”, and the concept of a place where you feel safe, secure and free to do what you want is reflected in these common idioms.


safe as houses = very safe: “This plan is as safe as houses. It can’t fail!”

get on like a house on fire = get on very well with someone: “Those two get on like a house on fire.”

give house room to = give space in your house to something: “I wouldn’t give house room to that lamp. It’s horrible!”

eat someone out of house and home = eat a lot of food: “When they stayed with me, they ate me out of house and home!”

get a foot on the housing ladder = manage to buy your first house so that you can buy a bigger second one later: “It’s becoming more difficult for young people to get a foot on the housing ladder.”

get your own house in order = tidy up your own affairs before criticising other people’s: “You should get your own house in order before telling me what to do!”

be on the house = be free (in a restaurant): “Can I get you a drink on the house?”

have a roof over your head = have somewhere to live: “Unless we find another flat to rent, we won’t have a roof over our heads in two months’ time!”

build castles in the air = have impossible dreams or plans: “She has this unrealistic idea of sailing around the world. She’s building castles in the air again.”

lead someone up the garden path = deceive someone: “He really led her up the garden path with his promises of promotion and career advancement.”

everything but the kitchen sink = take a lot of things when you go somewhere: “They took everything but the kitchen sink when they went on holiday.”

throw money down the drain = waste money: “If you ask me, by giving your son all that money, you’re really throwing money down the drain.”

have a skeleton in the cupboard / in the closet = have an unpleasant secret: “There are a lot of skeletons in their cupboard.”

Other expressions with house

housework = chores you do in the house: “She does all the housework.”

house wine = the restaurant’s own unlabelled wine: “Would you like the house red or the house white?”

house music = a type of dance music: “They played house all night at the club.”

house speciality = a speciality of the restaurant: “Garlic oysters are one of their house specialities.”

full house = a full theatre: “It’s full house tonight.”


home in on = become closer to your target: “Police are homing in on the suspects.”

there’s no place like home = an expression to mean that your home is a special place: “What a great holiday! Still, there’s no place like home.”

home from home = a place that is as comfortable as your home: “The hotel was home from home.”

be home and dry = succeed at something and not expect any further problems: “I’m glad we’ve got that new client. We’re home and dry now.”

make yourself at home = make yourself comfortable: “Make yourself at home! Can I get you a drink?”

ram something home = make a point forcefully: “They rammed home the idea that she had to get a good job.”

Other expressions with home

home truth = an uncomfortable fact: “She’s going to have to sit down and hear some home truths.”

home comforts = the things that make you feel comfortable: “Our hotel room has all the home comforts, such as a coffee maker, reading lamp, nice soaps in the bathroom…”

homework = school exercises that you do at home: “Our teachers give us a ton of homework!”

homesick = when you miss your home: “He went away for two weeks, but was terribly homesick.”

For more vocabulary about houses, see our pages on House and garden vocabulary and Buying a house.