Definition of house in English:

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Pronunciation: /hous/
(plural houses /ˈhouziz/)
Image of house
1A building for human habitation, especially one that is lived in by a family or small group of people.
Example sentences
  • Real foxes do, indeed, sometimes make their homes under human houses and, increasingly in this country at any rate, under city homes.
  • The plaintiffs were required to carry out certain repairs by the local council in order to render houses fit for human habitation.
  • Then here were a great many houses; human habitations, full of the mysteries of life at every stage of it.
residence, home, place of residence;
a roof over one's head
formal habitation, dwelling (place), abode, domicile
1.1The people living in a house; a household: do you want the whole house woken up?
More example sentences
  • Every creak of a floor board or an opening door seems loud enough to wake up the whole house.
  • He picked up his cell phone to call her but thought that he would be waking up the whole house.
  • I would have called you, but I didn't want to wake your entire house at seven on a weekend.
household, family, occupants;
clan, tribe
informal brood
1.2 (often House) A family or family lineage, especially a noble or royal one; a dynasty: the power and prestige of the house of Stewart
More example sentences
  • Mountbatten was born to a family closely related to the house of Windsor.
  • Mar decided to retaliate by raising the standard for the house of Stuart.
  • The Picts also practiced matrilineal descent - thus their royal houses all descended through the female line.
family, clan, tribe;
dynasty, line, bloodline, lineage, ancestry, family tree
1.3 [with modifier] A building in which animals live or in which things are kept: a reptile house
More example sentences
  • The Reptile House gives visitors an insight into the reptile and amphibian world in its many shapes and sizes.
  • The majority of the Zoo's birds live in the beautiful, sanctuary-like Bird House but birds are also scattered throughout other exhibits.
2A building in which people meet for a particular activity: a house of prayer
More example sentences
  • Jesus, berating the money-changers in the Temple, called the building a house of prayer.
  • He also noted that it did not take into account the mosques and Muslim houses of prayer destroyed since 1948.
  • It is not right to make a fortress of Christ's church, which is a house of prayer.
2.1A business or institution: he had purchased a publishing house
More example sentences
  • The central government plans to privatise publishing houses in a bid to open the sector and lure investment.
  • There seemed to be only a half dozen corporate publishing houses left.
  • He also appealed to business houses to help the institution with the sinking of a borehole since the school has no water supply.
firm, business, company, corporation, enterprise, establishment, institution, organization, operation
informal outfit, setup
2.2A restaurant or inn: [as modifier]: I ordered a bottle of their house wine
More example sentences
  • We'll dine at the fanciest and snootiest drive-thru restaurants and waffle houses.
  • There are a few trusty pizza houses and French restaurants for those who can't face cooking after a day of strenuous exercise.
  • You can sip a cup of tea at the tea house and restaurant inside the garden.
2.3A residential hall at a school or college, or its residents.
Example sentences
  • No parts of the university were closed to the public (of course, the residential fraternity houses were another matter).
  • In the final chapter, Kiely tells us about his adventures as a master of one of Harvard's residential houses.
  • The boarding houses are Grange Court, Sandon Lodge, and Hainault House.
2.4A theater: a hundred musicians performed in front of a full house
More example sentences
  • Most of the picture houses and theatres carried a lot of publicity from their managers' point of view.
  • That attendance at theatre houses has dropped can only point to the fact that the quality of productions has not been impressive as has been the investment.
  • The community responds and you screen in 800 seat theatres to packed houses.
audience, crowd, spectators, viewers, listeners;
assembly, congregation
2.5An audience in a theater or concert venue: the house burst into applause
More example sentences
  • Since Gyan's return to the North Coast she has been performing to sellout houses.
  • It played six performances to packed houses at Sydney's Conservatorium, and attracted gratifying media attention.
  • Later it performed to packed houses at Andrew's Lane Theatre in Dublin
2.6A religious community that occupies a particular building: the Cistercian house at Clairvaux
More example sentences
  • Giberti, like Sadoleto, chose to reside in his see, where he disciplined his clergy, reformed religious houses, and took the cure of souls seriously.
  • Joseph II reduced the number of religious houses belonging to the contemplative orders.
  • In England, for example, there were some fifty religious houses in 1066 and perhaps 1,000 monks and nuns.
2.7 dated A brothel.
Example sentences
  • In an attempt to create Canada’s first cooperative bawdy house, a sex-work organization will submit a request to Parliament for amnesty from an anti-brothel provision within the next six months.
2.8British formal A college of a university.
Example sentences
  • He studied at the Castle, one of four teaching houses of the university which offered two year Arts degrees based almost entirely on the teachings of Aristotle.
  • College House is New Zealand’s oldest and most traditional University College, and is home to 152 students at the University of Canterbury.
3A legislative or deliberative assembly: the sixty-member National Council, the country’s upper house
More example sentences
  • At the state level, some of the legislatures are bicameral, patterned after the two houses of the national parliament.
  • The referendum has been widely adopted to protect key aspects of state constitutions, such as the governor and the two houses of parliament.
  • This introduced a national parliament with two houses for India.
legislative assembly, legislative body, legislature, chamber, council, congress, senate, parliament, diet
3.1 (the House) The House of Representatives or (in the UK or Canada) the House of Commons or Lords.
Example sentences
  • The oldest member of parliament, he served as speaker of the house when it first met.
  • Ideally, the president of the GMC would present the annual report in public, before a committee of both houses of parliament.
  • We accept that a time will come when the houses of parliament and the government will have to agree a final form of the bill that is less than ideal.
4 (also house music) A style of popular dance music typically using synthesized drum and bass lines, sparse repetitive vocals, and a fast beat.
Example sentences
  • We were influenced by electro, hip-hop, house music, jazz-funk, reggae, everything really.
  • I mainly listen to minimal techno house, mostly because that's what I play out.
  • Next door, was a cafe run by a former ska musician with a love for house and techno.
5 Astrology Any of the twelve divisions of the celestial sphere, based on the positions of the ascendant and midheaven at a given time and place, and determined by any of a number of methods.
Example sentences
  • It is also good to have the ruler of the Ascendant and the 2nd house in mutual reception.
  • A horoscope needs to be drawn and studied and the meaning of aspects as well as the positioning of houses and planets have to be understood.
  • His seventh house contains Mars while Libra is at the Ascendant containing Uranus.
5.1A celestial division represented as a sector on an astrological chart, used in allocating elements of character and circumstance to different spheres of human life.
Example sentences
  • I look further along and I see the Moon is at the top of the chart in the ninth house at 14 degrees of Virgo.
  • The angular houses represent our own ‘seats of power’, places of familiarity and control.
  • Every astrology chart is divided into houses, starting with the Ascendant line and working anti-clockwise around the rest of the chart.


Pronunciation: /hous/
1(Of an animal or plant) kept in, frequenting, or infesting buildings.
Example sentences
  • The study also showed that rather than living in hutches, four out of 10 pet rabbits were house rabbits.
  • The cougar reportedly snatched a house cat and ran off into the bush with it.
  • It was a paddock for the grazing of house cows and the Governor's horses.
2Relating to a business, institution, or society: a house journal
More example sentences
  • Business Week, which wants to be the house journal for Web 2.0 badgers, has no doubts.
  • This section looks firstly at factors concerned with the fund manager's organisational structure and secondly at matters relating to the implementation of the house policy.
  • The main purpose of an external house journal is to promote the organization, its products, and its services.
2.1(Of a band or group) resident or regularly performing in a club or other venue.
Example sentences
  • As always, the house band will be in residence with all the usual suspects!
  • Jim Bridges and Cory Papirny are the house band rhythm section this time around.
  • He takes his place near the back of the house band, playing the spoons in perfect tempo.


Pronunciation: /houz/
[with object]
1Provide (a person or animal) with shelter or living quarters: attempts by the government to house the poor
More example sentences
  • The women and children cited by Coleman in the column appear to be housed in shelters.
  • If an asylum-seeker turned up with his family I am sure they would be housed in far better accommodation than these poor people have to live in.
  • It enables vulnerable people to be housed in suitable accommodation so that they can try and turn their lives around.
accommodate, provide accommodations for, give someone a roof over their head, lodge, quarter, board, billet, take in, sleep, put up;
harbor, shelter
2Provide space for; accommodate: the museum houses a collection of Roman sculpture
More example sentences
  • The Van Gogh museum houses the largest collection of this troubled man's masterpieces, and is definitely worth a look.
  • The experience of being inside the David and Peggy Rockefeller Building, which houses the museum's new galleries, is uplifting.
  • The Lower East Side Tenement Museum is housed in one such building, at 97 Orchard Street.
contain, hold, store;
cover, protect, enclose
2.1Insert or fix (something) in a socket or mortise.
Example sentences
  • The joinery not only meets the requirements of modern engineering, it is the classic housed mortise and tenon joinery that has withstood the test of time.
  • A socket for receiving the wedge base electric lamp houses socket terminals serving to retain the electric lamp and to provide contact with lead wires of the electric lamp.



like a house on fire (or afire)

informal Vigorously; furiously.
Example sentences
  • The book starts off like a house on fire.
  • Rovers opened like a house on fire, but for all the speed and accuracy they showed, they could not find a breach in the Blues' defence.
  • Vic Rangers set off like a house on fire and really took the game to Albion in the first ten minutes.
1.1Excellently: Ben and my aunt got along like a house on fire
More example sentences
  • I met her in January 2005, and we've gotten along like a house on fire.
  • Naturally, I am expecting to get along with her like a house on fire.
  • However, it was the 23-year-old Bingham who started like a house on fire and he won all four frames before the interval, helped by breaks of 51, 78, 70 and 95.

house and home

A person’s home (used for emphasis): some people sell house and home to sit in a boat writing books
More example sentences
  • At the same time, he postulated that ‘a woman's duty is to see to house and home.’
  • You certainly love her, but don't forget about all those times when her brother invited himself over for dinner, unannounced of course, eating the two of you out of house and home.
  • Also if you get too many deer in one place they can eat themselves out of house and home,’ Mr Cubby added.

a house divided cannot stand

proverb A group or organization weakened by internal dissensions will be unable to withstand external pressures.
Example sentences
  • A great man once said that a house divided cannot stand.
  • It was Jesus, and much later Abraham Lincoln, that pointed out that a house divided cannot stand.
  • ‘The church of Jesus Christ has been divided and a house divided cannot stand.’

house of cards

A structure built out of playing cards precariously balanced together.
Example sentences
  • Like a precariously balanced house of cards, the McCartney team collapsed on the eve of a high-profile 2001 launch, due to be held in Trafalgar Square.
  • Similarly, our connectedness, our human compact, is sandwiched together like the floors in a house of cards that is easier to knock down than we might think.
  • Hustvedt is an excellent writer but the structure of the book seems as flimsy as a house of cards, and the resolution at the end highly unsatisfactory.
4.1An insubstantial or insecure situation or scheme: his case was a house of cards until Attorney Jabowski stepped in
More example sentences
  • As events conspire to topple the rather precarious house of cards that Murdock has built for himself, he comes to realise that he is trapped in an ever-worsening cycle of despair.
  • It may be a house of cards or window dressing to those of us who understand security, but the vast majority of the population does not understand security.
  • But the pyramid of evidence-based medicine is not solid-it's a house of cards.

keep house

Do the cooking, cleaning, and other tasks involved in the running of a household.
Example sentences
  • The beneficiary of all this motorized magic was nearly every American who cleans or keeps house.
  • I have been instructing her in all the basic cooking and keeping house ways.
  • Girls learned how to cook and clean and keep house against the day that they might someday be wed to a wealthy man.

on the house

(Of a drink or meal in a bar or restaurant) at the management’s expense; free.
Example sentences
  • The Cretans almost always give you a drink on the house at the start or end of a meal.
  • It's the landlord's last night, so the final rounds of drinks are on the house.
  • I then informed her that as she was so nice, and this was her first visit to this bar, her drink was on the house.
free, free of charge, without charge, at no cost, for nothing, gratis;
informal for free, comp

play house

(Of a child) play at being a family in their home.
Example sentences
  • But I'm sure if you nicely explain your feelings, your folks would agree with you that playing house as kids means little when it comes to having a real boyfriend.
  • I am a responsible member of society, but I still feel like a kid playing house, expecting the real world to catch up with me any second.
  • She loves mermaids, playing house, and it also came with lots of little things: a flower shower, a little boat, a tiny slide.

put (or set or get) one's house in order

Make necessary reforms: they need to put their own economic house in order
More example sentences
  • And the overall message to the arbiters of the city's destiny is blunt and clear - set your house in order or else people will start looking elsewhere when they consider a location for their next round of investment.
  • Let us first set our house in order before showing it off to others through the Net.
  • They bounced back, put their house in order and became a paradigm of how it can all work out.

set up house

Make one’s home in a specified place.
Example sentences
  • In 1751 John Home married, and David and his sister set up house in Edinburgh, moving to slightly more luxurious quarters as his fortunes improved.
  • He moved to London in 1964, set up house with schoolteacher Brian Taylor, and worked his way through London and local theatre.
  • It wasn't until I started making a list of things I needed to buy that I realised how many accoutrements are involved in setting up house.



Pronunciation: /ˈhousˌfo͝ol/
noun (plural housefuls)
Example sentences
  • In the pictures from the burial, his wife Marie looked as distressed and tearful as any woman, left alone to bring up a houseful of children without much material support, might be expected to look.
  • And I hope we have a houseful of people.
  • And in a houseful of a lot of kids, and there were a lot of grand kids around, he would get on top of a chair to get attention if necessary.


Pronunciation: /ˈhousləs/
Example sentences
  • In the guise of providing shelter to siteless or houseless persons, the owners of immovable properties are made landless and also jobless.
  • When they first glimpsed Carmel, it reminded them of the Cornish coast (back then the area was treeless, still largely houseless, and windswept).
  • I get on a train, and am disgorged on a dark, houseless Merrylee Road.


Old English hūs (noun), hūsian (verb), of Germanic origin; related to Dutch huis, German Haus (nouns), and Dutch huizen, German hausen (verbs).

  • The word house is related to Dutch huis and German Haus, and their ancient ancestor may have been a root meaning ‘to hide’ found also in huddle (late 16th century). The House of Commons was first called by that name in the early 17th century, quickly followed by the Houses of Parliament, and the House of Lords. The house music heard in clubs from 1986 onwards was probably named after the Warehouse, a club in Chicago where the music was first popular. See also hussy

Words that rhyme with house

douse, dowse, Gauss, grouse, Klaus, louse, Manaus, mouse, nous, Rouse, souse, spouse, Strauss arouse, blouse, browse, carouse, Cowes, dowse, drowse, espouse, Howes, rouse

For editors and proofreaders

Syllabification: house

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