a house of cards

house of cards

A plan, organization, or other entity that is destined to fail due to a weak structure or foundation (likened to a literal house of cards, which is built by balancing playing cards against one another, and is very easily toppled). Greg decided against investing in the new technology company because he got the feeling that it was a house of cards. So your plan is to just cram and miraculously get good grades on all of your exams? That sounds like a real house of cards to me!
See also: card, house, of

a house of cards

COMMON If you describe a system, organization, or plan as a house of cards, you mean that it is likely to fail or collapse. This government could fall apart like a house of cards during the first policy discussion. When he left the company, the whole house of cards collapsed. She knows that the cosy family relationships of the past were a house of cards, based on unstable foundations. Note: This refers to the building of an elaborate but unstable pyramid structure using playing cards.
See also: card, house, of
References in classic literature ?
But he had only to forget the artificial train of reasoning, and to turn from life itself to what had satisfied him while thinking in accordance with the fixed definitions, and all this artificial edifice fell to pieces at once like a house of cards, and it became clear that the edifice had been built up out of those transposed words, apart from anything in life more important than reason.
The whole Diaz machine would go down like a house of cards.
By the glare, Adam could see the tower shake and tremble, and finally fall to pieces like a house of cards.
Yes--I--no: yes, it was beautiful," he said, looking at her blindly, and wondering if, whenever he heard those two syllables, all his carefully built-up world would tumble about him like a house of cards.
My dear, it went down like a house of cards before my breath.
I knew full well that should the bear make a determined effort to get at us, the rocks I had piled as a barrier would come tumbling down about his giant shoulders like a house of cards, and that he would walk directly in upon us.