house of cards

Idioms & Phrases

house of cards

A weak and fragile structure, plan, or organization, as in Her scheme to reorganize the school sounds like another house of cards, or Jerry built his entire business on what turned out to be a house of cards. This metaphoric expression alludes to the structure made by balancing playing cards against one another. [First half of 1600s]

The American Heritage® Dictionary of Idioms by Christine Ammer.
Copyright © 1997. Published by Houghton Mifflin.
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