House and Home Idioms – Part 1

House and home idioms

Learning to understand and use idioms is a vital part of becoming fluent in English. Inspired by the current climate this blog post focuses on idioms related to houses and homes, where we are all spending the vast majority of our time at the moment.

Check out these five house and home idioms and practise using them in your English conversations this week.

1. Go around the houses

To go around the houses is to do something in a complicated or long-winded fashion. When someone takes a long time to get to the point of what they want to say, we can describe it as going around the houses.

  • “Bob has some really good ideas but he goes around the houses far too much when trying to explain them.”
  • “Please, Mr President, stop going around the houses and just tell us the truth!”

2. Get on like a house on fire

If two people get on really well and enjoy each other’s company we say that they get on like a house on fire.

  • “Jane and Emily always laugh until they cry when they get together. They get on like a house on fire!
  • “I was really worried about introducing my boyfriend to my family, but they’re getting on like a house on fire!

3. Home truth

A home truth is a difficult or uncomfortable fact that needs to be told.

  • “Mia is failing almost every subject at school this term. We need to sit down with her and tell her some home truths.”
  • “After David’s family told him some home truths about his drinking, he decided to get help.”

4. Safe as houses

If something is described as safe as houses it is extremely safe.

  • “Simon was really stressed about the investment, but I told him not to worry. It’s safe as houses!”
  • “Don’t worry; the jewellery is safe as houses. I hid it somewhere no one will ever think to look.”

5. The lights are on but no one’s home

This is a humorous expression that can be used to describe someone who is physically there but daydreaming and/or unresponsive.

  • “Don’t expect Chris to answer, look at him! The lights are on but no one’s home.”
  • “I don’t think Alexa got much sleep last night. The lights are on but no one’s home today, unfortunately.”


Now test your understanding! Fill in the sentences below with the correct House/Home idiom.

  1. “We don’t have time to ____________________, just tell me straight what’s happened.”
  2. “Jack and Harry don’t stop talking for a second when they get together! They have so much in common. They ____________________.”
  3. “I had to actually wave my hand in Pete’s face to make him pay attention to the meeting this week. Honestly, ______________________ with him.”
  4. “We’re ________________ with that new security system. No one will ever break in!”
  5. “I think Tim got the job because he’s such a straight-talking character. If there are __________________ that need saying, he’ll say them!”

Discussion questions (free answer):

  1. Who do you get on like a house on fire with and why?
  2. How is working from home going for you?
  3. Are you and your family getting on like a house on fire? Or perhaps you’re starting to feel like the walls are closing in?

Write your answers in the comments below, and check back soon for more house and home idioms in part two.


This blog was written by Intrepid English teacher, Kate.

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