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Bring down the house

Posted by Bruce Kahl on March 11, 2006

In Reply to: Bring down the house posted by Victoria S Dennis on March 10, 2006

: : : : what is the meaning of bring down the house and where was it originated?

: : : "House" here is used in the theatrical sense "an auditorium full of people". Ever since the 18th century, theatre folk have used "bring down the house" (or "bring the house down") to mean "gain rapturous applause".

: : Victoria is right, as usual, but why the particularities of the phrase? In what way is the house brought down? Always wondered that. SS

: me too.Did they come thronging *down* the aisles to the front of the house to clap?

I bit of hyperbole maybe--a suggestion that the clapping would be loud enough to pose a threat to the building.

British music hall comedians, when the audience greeted a joke with silence, would say "Don't clap so hard; you'll bring down the house".