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Anonymous asked in Education & ReferenceWords & Wordplay · 2 months ago

ENGLISH: Meaning of "big house"?

I've been told that "the big house" can also mean "jail". Why? Where is this expression used?

Does it originate from the US or the UK? Where is it used?! 

4 Answers

  • 2 months ago
    Favorite Answer

    Jail is the temporary, local place you get put until your trial, or until you are bailed out. Prison is the place you are sent after trial to serve whatever number of years. "The big house" refers to a prison- so someone was sentenced to serve a period of time, which is different from being in the little jail. 

  • 2 months ago

    It's houses many many people. It is a big house with a lot of bedrooms.  Prison :(

  • 2 months ago

    The US. It's a  term for prison. State prisons are usually big. As opposed to county jails. The term was used a lot in 1930s gangster movies.

    Another use was in slavery times. It meant the large mansion the master lived in.

    Source(s): Native American English speaker. And fan of gangster movies.
  • Anonymous
    2 months ago

    It's American slang not used in the UK. Its first published usage was in 1913, but it was already understood as meaning "prison" (not "jail"), its etymology being unknown. Also, the expression is "the big house." While dictionary entries leave off the "the," the "the" is required because "I got sent to prison" is expressed as "I got sent to the big house," not "I got sent to big house."

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