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Vitruvius (fl. 40 bc) Roman architect and military engineer


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A house divided cannot stand proverbial saying, mid 11th century; originally with biblical allusion to Matthew 12:25, ‘Every city or house divided against itself shall not stand.’ (Compare united we stand, divided we fall.)

house of cards a structure built out of playing cards precariously balanced together.

the House that Jack built a nursery accumulation of great antiquity, possibly based on an old Hebrew original, a hymn in Sepher Haggadah, beginning ‘A kid my father bought for two pieces of money’, ‘then came the cat and ate the kid, etc.’, ‘then came the dog and bit the cat, etc.’, ending with the Angel of Death who killed the butcher who slew the ox, etc.; and the Holy One who slew the Angel of Death. That the English version is an early one is indicated by the reference to the ‘priest, all shaven and shorn’.

keep (or make) a House secure the presence of enough members for a quorum in the House of Commons.

when house and land are gone and spent, then learning is most excellent proverbial saying, mid 18th century, contrasting the value of learning with the ephemeral nature of material possessions (compare learning is better than house and land).

See also angel in the house, better one house spoiled than two, an Englishman's house is his castle, fools build houses, people who live in glass houses, a plague on all their houses!, sweep the house with broom in May.

Subjects: Architecture.

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