Deeper Dive: house



Word Story Text
Here we are at the word house. Welcome, come on in!

The vowel in house is spelled with the letters OU, which together make the OW sound. Many other words that young children will know have this OU spelling with the ow sound, including MOUTH, SHOUT, ABOUT, and FOUND. This common pattern will help children to learn to read house. However, there are two slightly tricky things about house.

The first is that while the most common pronunciation of the OU spelling is the OW vowel as in house, the OU spelling has several other pronunciations. Many of the words with other pronunciations of OU are fairly advanced words that younger readers wouldn’t encounter in early reading, so probably most of them won’t interfere with learning house. However, there are a few words with other pronunciations of the OU spelling that may show up in texts for young readers. I’ll mention a few of them. There’s the OU spelling pronounced as OH, as in the number FOUR and POUR P O U R, as in pour the milk. There’s also OU pronounced UH as in YOUNG, Y O U N G. And another OU pronunciation is OUH as in COULD C O U L D AND WOULD, W O U L D.

The second slightly tricky thing about house is that it has a silent E, but the presence of the E doesn’t change the vowel, whereas the silent E does change the vowel in other words. There is no long vowel alternative to the OW vowel in English and so the silent E doesn’t change the vowel in house.

One of the great things about helping children learn to read house is that house has a close word friend, MOUSE, so that there’s an advantage to teaching these two words together. I can imagine an activity in which children are reading or even writing a sentence about a mouse living in a house. So you might not want a mouse in your house in real life, but for teaching these words, a Mouse in a house is a very good thing.

“Have nothing in your house that you do not know to be useful or believe to be beautiful.” William Morris

“If you really want to make a friend, go to someone’s house and eat with him…the people who give you their food give you their heart.” Cesar Chavez

“You have got to clean your own house first before you tell other people that they aren’t doing it right.” Dan Webster


It’s my house and I live here
It’s my house and I live here

There’s a welcome mat at the door
And if you come on in
You’re gonna get much more
There’s my chair
I put it there
Everything you see
Is with love and care

It’s my house Diana Ross

in the house

out of the house

on the house!

from house to house

house noun pl. houses (#). [OE. hous, hus, AS. hs; akin to OS. & OFries. hs, D. huis, OHG. hs, G. haus, Icel. hs, Sw. hus, Dan. huus, Goth. gudhs, house of God, temple; and prob. to E. hide to conceal. See Hide, and cf. Hoard, Husband, Hussy, Husting.]

1. A structure intended or used as a habitation or shelter for animals of any kind; but especially, a building or edifice for the habitation of man; a dwelling place, a mansion.
houses are built to live in; not to look on. Bacon.

Bees with smoke and doves with noisome stench
Are from their hives and houses driven away. Shak.
2. household affairs; domestic concerns; particularly in the phrase to keep house. See below.

3. Those who dwell in the same house; a household.
One that feared God with all his house. Acts x. 2.
4. A family of ancestors, descendants, and kindred; a race of persons from the same stock; a tribe; especially, a noble family or an illustrious race; as, the house of Austria; the house of Hanover; the house of Israel.
The last remaining pillar of their house,
The one transmitter of their ancient name. Tennyson.
5. One of the estates of a kingdom or other government assembled in parliament or legislature; a body of men united in a legislative capacity; as, the house of Lords; the house of Commons; the house of Representatives; also, a quorum of such a body. See Congress, and Parliament.

6. (Com.) A firm, or commercial establishment.

7. A public house; an inn; a hotel.

8. (Astrol.) A twelfth part of the heavens, as divided by six circles intersecting at the north and south points of the horizon, used by astrologers in noting the positions of the heavenly bodies, and casting horoscopes or nativities. The houses were regarded as fixed in respect to the horizon, and numbered from the one at the eastern horizon, called the ascendant, first house, or house of life, downward, or in the direction of the earth’s revolution, the stars and planets passing through them in the reverse order every twenty-four hours.

9. A square on a chessboard, regarded as the proper place of a piece.

10. An audience; an assembly of hearers, as at a lecture, a theater, etc.; as, a thin or a full house.

11. The body, as the habitation of the soul.
This mortal house I'll ruin,
Do Cæsar what he can. Shak.
12. [With an adj., as narrow, dark, etc.] The grave.
“The narrow house.” Bryant.
house is much used adjectively and as the first element of compounds. The sense is usually obvious; as, house cricket, housemaid, house painter, housework.

house ant (Zool.)
a very small, yellowish brown ant (Myrmica molesta), which often infests houses, and sometimes becomes a great pest.
house of bishops (Prot. Epis. Ch.)
one of the two bodies composing a general convertion, the other being house of Clerical and Lay Deputies.
house boat
a covered boat used as a dwelling.
house of call
a place, usually a public house, where journeymen connected with a particular trade assemble when out of work, ready for the call of employers. [Eng.] Simonds.
house car (Railroad)
a freight car with inclosing sides and a roof; a box car.
house of correction
See Correction.
house cricket (Zool.)
a European cricket (Gryllus domesticus), which frequently lives in houses, between the bricks of chimneys and fireplaces. It is noted for the loud chirping or stridulation of the males
house dog
a dog kept in or about a dwelling house.
house finch (Zool.)
the burion.
house flag
a flag denoting the commercial house to which a merchant vessel belongs.
house fly (Zool.)
a common fly (esp. Musca domestica), which infests houses both in Europe and America. Its larva is a maggot which lives in decaying substances or excrement, about sink drains, etc.
house of God
a temple or church. house of ill fame
See Ill fame under Ill, adjective
house martin (Zool.)
a common European swallow (Hirundo urbica). It has feathered feet, and builds its nests of mud against the walls of buildings. Called also house swallow, and window martin.
house mouse (Zool.)
the common mouse (Mus musculus).
house physician
the resident medical adviser of a hospital or other public institution.
house snake (Zool.)
the milk snake.
house sparrow (Zool.)
the common European sparrow (Passer domesticus). It has recently been introduced into America, where it has become very abundant, esp. in cities. Called also thatch sparrow.
house spider (Zool.)
any spider which habitually lives in houses. Among the most common species are Theridium tepidariorum and Tegenaria domestica.
house surgeon
the resident surgeon of a hospital.
house wren (Zool.)
the common wren of the Eastern United States (Troglodytes aëdon). It is common about houses and in gardens, and is noted for its vivacity, and loud musical notes. See Wren.
Religious house
a monastery or convent.
The White house
the official residence of the President of the United States; – hence, colloquially, the office of President.
To bring down the house
See under Bring.
To keep house
to maintain an independent domestic establishment.
To keep open house
to entertain friends at all times. Syn. – Dwelling; residence; abode. See Tenement.
house, transitive verb

[imperfect or past participle housed; present participle or verbal noun Housing.] [AS. hsian.]

1. To take or put into a house; to shelter under a roof; to cover from the inclemencies of the weather; to protect by covering; as, to house one's family in a comfortable home; to house farming utensils; to house cattle.
At length have housed me in a humble shed. Young.

house your choicest carnations, or rather set them under a penthouse. Evelyn.
2. To drive to a shelter. Shak.

3. To admit to residence; to harbor.
Palladius wished him to house all the Helots. Sir P. Sidney.
4. To deposit and cover, as in the grave. Sandy

5. (Naut.) To stow in a safe place; to take down and make safe; as, to house the upper spars.

house, intransitive verb

1. To take shelter or lodging; to abide to dwell; to lodge.
You shall not house with me. Shak.

-- Webster's unabridged 1913

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