Bring the house down and bring down the house

Bring the house down and bring down the house are two versions of an idiom. An idiom is a word, group of words or phrase that has a figurative meaning that is not easily deduced from its literal definition. Often using descriptive imagery, common idioms are words and phrases used in the English language in order to convey a concise idea, and are often spoken or are considered informal or conversational. English idioms can illustrate emotion more quickly than a phrase that has a literal meaning, even when the etymology or origin of the idiomatic expression is lost. An idiom is a metaphorical figure of speech, and it is understood that it is not a use of literal language. Figures of speech have definitions and connotations that go beyond the literal meaning of the words. Mastery of the turn of phrase of an idiom or other parts of speech is essential for the English learner. Many English as a Second Language students do not understand idiomatic expressions such as beating around the bush, ballpark figure, let the cat out of the bag, hit the sack, Achilles heel, barking up the wrong tree, kick the bucket, a dime a dozen, under the weather, piece of cake, when pigs fly, and raining cats and dogs, as they attempt to translate them word for word, which yields only the literal meaning. In addition to learning vocabulary and grammar, one must understand the phrasing of the figurative language of idiomatic phrases in order to know English like a native speaker. We will examine the definition of the phrases bring the house down and bring down the house, where these expressions came from and some examples of their use in sentences.

The expressions to bring the house down and to bring down the house mean to receive a positive and thunderous response from an audience, to please an audience to such a degree that the cheers, whistles and applause are loud enough to cause the building to collapse. The terms bring the house down and bring down the house were first used in the 1750s to describe the audience’s response to a theatrical performance. The idioms bring the house down and bring down the house may be used to describe any situation in which a speaker or performer pleases the audience, either because of a virtuoso performance or because he is giving them information that they agree with. Related phrases are brings the house down and brings down the house, brought the house down and brought down the house, bringing the house down and bringing down the house. Occasionally, the phrase bring the house down is used to mean to darken the mood of a performance or speech, to depress or sober an audience.


Hudson initially opened the concert with Hudson performing “Respect” and “Think,” but it was Hudson’s emotional, moving homage to Franklin with “Ain’t No Way” that helped bring the house down.  (Time Magazine)

It’s that “Oh Donald” gesture that would probably bring the house down on a mid-90s sitcom where she was the long-suffering society wife and he was the bumbling dad with a shady friend Vladimir who was always getting him into hijinks. (Elle Magazine)

This is universal, as demonstrated by stand-up comedy and the syndicated comic strip Blondie, which can bring down the house with tales of a nagging wife standing over a dozing husband with a chore list that curls halfway around the block. (The Bristol Herald Courier)

Proving that they can reach across the aisle and included one another for a good cause, state Sen. Kim Ward, R-Hempfield, and County Commissioner Ted Kopas, a Democrat, brought down the house at Ferrante’s Lakeview with a karaoke duet of “Don’t Go Breaking My Heart,” the 1976 hit duet by Elton John and Kiki Dee. (The Tribune Review)

Leave a Comment