A House Divided Against Itself Cannot Stand (Origin)

by Craig Shrives

What Is the Origin of the Saying "A House Divided Against Itself Cannot Stand"?

The term "a house divided against itself cannot stand" means everyone involved must unify and function together or it will not work out.

The term "a house divided" originates from the Bible, where it features twice:

Gospel of Matthew: Chapter 12: Verse 25

"Every kingdom divided against itself is brought to desolation, and every city or house divided against itself will not stand."

Gospel of Mark: Chapter 3: Verse 25

"And if a house is divided against itself, that house cannot stand."
These verses are quotations from Jesus. According to Bible Study Tools, "He [Jesus] was describing the division within the house of the Lord that would eventually lead to His sacrifice on the cross." It was essentially Jesus's warning to remain united.

The term was further popularized by President Abraham Lincoln's 1858 anti-slavery speech, which started with "A house divided against itself cannot stand." President Lincoln, however, used the term "house" in reference to the government, and, nowadays, the idiom is most often used in a political context due to its inclusion in terms such as the "House of Representatives," "House of Commons" or "House of Lords."
A House Divided Against Itself Cannot Stand (Origin)

Previous and Next Sayings

Test Your Knowledge of English Proverbs and Idioms

Ready for the Test?

More Proverbs, Sayings, and Idioms

Help Us Improve Grammar Monster

  • Do you disagree with something on this page?
  • Did you spot a typo?

Find Us Quicker!

  • When using a search engine (e.g., Google, Bing), you will find Grammar Monster quicker if you add #gm to your search term.
Next lesson >