to get on like a house on fire

Discussion in 'English Only' started by Jana337, Apr 13, 2005.

  1. Jana337

    Jana337 Senior Member

    The idiom above means "to get along very well".

    At the first sight I'd guess that the meaning is exactly opposite, i.e. "not to be able to stand each other".

    I wonder where the idiom comes from...

  2. cuchuflete

    cuchuflete Senior Member

    Maine, EEUU
    Hello Jana,

    You are correct, in that it means 'very well', but this is a strained use of the 'house on fire' expression. Please have a look at this: gives the following:


  3. Jana337

    Jana337 Senior Member

    Hi Cuchu, thanks for being so helpful.

    Many warm greetings from the sunny Prague.

  4. cuchuflete

    cuchuflete Senior Member

    Maine, EEUU
    You are most welcome Jana. There was fresh snow on the ground here this morning. Spring will come some day!
  5. JLanguage Senior Member

    Georgia, US
    USA: American English, Learning Hebrew and Spanish
    This is a new expression for me. Is it chiefly British English?
  6. te gato

    te gato Senior Member

    Calgary, Alberta
    Alberta--TGE (te gato English)
    Hey JLanguage;
    No I do not think so..We say it here in Alberta...
    te gato;)
  7. Hello.

    1) to get on like a house on fire
    2) to get along like a house on fire
    Is the first BE and is the second AE?
  8. sound shift

    sound shift Senior Member

    Derby (central England)
    English - England
    "On" is BE. I believe "along" is AE (AE-speaking forer@s will confirm/refute), Umeboshi.
  9. sound shift,
    Thank you for the response.
  10. Forero Senior Member

    Houston, Texas, USA
    USA English
    To me, "like a house on fire" sounds too literal. I have only heard "like a house afire", meaning either "quickly" or "as if nothing can get in their way".
  11. duganp New Member

    English -US and UK
    This is a great expression. It suggests one of those conversations with a stranger at some humdrum gathering that suddenly becomes surprisingly intense and engaged. Perhaps the symbolism is of an exciting connection springing up quickly - recognition of a kindred spirit - like a sudden fire, gathering strength from itself.

    Forero - I suspect that "like a house afire" may be a local variation of the phrase with a different (and frankly more logical) meaning.

    For what it's worth, I've heard "get on/along like a house on fire" exactly as described by the other posters, primarily from the Brit side of my family (dyed-in-the-wool Cockneys - they're a treasure trove of old, bizarre sayings).

    My first post here. Wonderful site!

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