When talking about family dwellings, they tend to be either on one floor (either a bungalow or a flat) or split across two floors. If a dwelling has two floors then it tends to be a house and not a flat but if, however, it is a flat split across two floors, it is called a maisonette.
Is there a specific word for a house (not part of a block of flats) that has two floors?
Is there a matching adjective?

I used to live in a bungalow but now we've moved into a [two-floored house]

  • In the US, I would just say house —I would assume this meant at least two-stories unless told otherwise. Even a bungalow in the US is usually two stories, it's just that the second floor is under the eaves, rather than having an attic above it. Typically in the US a single-story house is called a ranch or ranch-style (if it's somewhat sprawling/wider than it is deep) or maybe just a single-story house (usually if it's really small or square).
    – 1006a
    Jan 16, 2017 at 22:53
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    @1006a I don't think I agree there(with the 2 story part). Try California prices in good areas and you're paying 1 million plus for a ranch built in the 1960s with 1500 square feet. Only the realtors call them "ranches" these days. Most people just say "i bought a house" or "at my house etc"
    – Tom22
    Jan 16, 2017 at 23:08
  • @Tom22 that's fair... House prices were actually a big factor in our move from LA years ago. Still, I suspect the default/prototypical/ideal image of a house in most of the country is still the two-story house as in the child's drawing of a box with a triangle on top for a roof, a rectangular door in the middle, and four square windows. (And maybe a chimney, usually sticking out at a wonky angle.)
    – 1006a
    Jan 16, 2017 at 23:45
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    @1006a ; ) And, we have TV examples too ... all american families seem to have an upstairs on TV
    – Tom22
    Jan 16, 2017 at 23:48
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    There is no special term -- "two-floored" or "two-story" would be the common terms, when being specific is required. There are also some specific words for specific configurations: We live in a "split-entry" home, where the entry is effectively on a landing between the two floors, and the house next to ours is a "split level", where, typically, there are two levels and a third level halfway between and adjacent. There is also "story-and-a-half", where the upstairs is a sort of finished attic. And you can have a one-floor home with a "finished basement".
    – Hot Licks
    Jan 16, 2017 at 23:49

8 Answers 8


This is generally called a "two-story house" in AmE. Someone might use a more colorful term (e.g. "New American") but I would view it as pure marketing propaganda, as I know of nothing in widespread use.

Do a search for "two-story house" or "2-story house" and you'll get all the results you can imagine.

The only related term I know is "duplex" which is really just a house -- often a two-story house -- that's been split into two separate units. These can be above each other or side-by-side, depending on the design.

(Edit) I'm reminded the British tend to spell it "two-storey" house, to distinguish it from the other kind of "story".

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    This is definitely the best answer.
    – barbecue
    Jan 17, 2017 at 4:13
  • I suppose there isn't a specific word; shame. I suppose this is the best I'll get. If there isn't another word by the end of the week I'll accept this. Jan 17, 2017 at 7:25
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    "New American" would be inappropriate and all kinds of confusing anywhere else but the US...
    – DevSolar
    Jan 17, 2017 at 9:04
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    "New American" would also be confusing in the US. I'm from the US and would have absolutely no idea what it meant. I certainly wouldn't assume that it meant two-story; I'd assume some other kind of architectural style, like external design. In fact, Google suggests that it more so implies an open floor plan and lots of space—that doesn't necessarily mean it has multiple stories. Jan 17, 2017 at 9:32
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    In British English it would more likely be a 'two-storey house', if you bothered to distinguish it at all from the generic 'house' (90%+ of which have two storeys in the UK) Apr 5, 2019 at 9:16

The original Anglo-Indian word bungalow, inside the UK is always a one-story house. The OED, with entries from the 17th century says,

Orig., a one-storied house (or temporary building, e.g. a summer-house), lightly built, usually with a thatched roof. In modern use, any one-storied house.

Outside of the UK, bungalow is often applied to a single or dual story house, where the second story is beneath the eaves, as @1006a has commented.

However for UK purposes, single story, is bungalow, any detached domestic residence that is more than that is called simply a house. Often people will say things like do they live in a house or bungalow?, expressing a distinction in the terms.

However, just to avoid confusion, the word house also tends to be used as a generic term for any domestic residence, where the nature of the structure is not known to the speaker - e.g. Do you watch much TV at your house? It could be a house, bungalow or flat in a sentence like that. It would be unlikely anyone would say Do you watch much TV at your bungalow? -even if it was known that they lived in a bungalow.

A flat in the UK is a residence with a shared front door, and common areas with other similar residences. It can be on any number of floors.

A semi-detached house is one that shares a party wall with a neighbour - so it is two houses in one structure, each with its own door. A terraced house is one that is in a row of three or more joined houses in a terrace.

A maisonette is chiefly a British term (also Australian) and expressed by the OED as A part of a residential building which is occupied separately, usually on more than one floor and having its own outside entrance.

  • At the turn of the century (19th/20th), the UK's urban growth produced rows of terraced housing developments in its urban, industrial heartland (typically South Wales & the Midlands) for the 'working man' and his family. Such small houses were often termed "one-up, one-down" houses. Jan 17, 2017 at 2:17
  • Small "starter homes" in the UK are still sometimes described as "two up and two down" (i.e two bedrooms upstairs and two main rooms downstairs). Since the vast majority of houses in the UK have two storeys, that is what the term "house" with no added adjectives means.
    – alephzero
    Jan 17, 2017 at 6:34
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    @OldBunny2800 I think we are now into estate agent jargon. I've heard it said that a townhouse is really a posh terraced house, which has Jacuzzis and flat screens, in the bathrooms, and where the residents perhaps read the Times or the Guardian rather than the Sun or the Mail.
    – WS2
    Jan 17, 2017 at 16:09
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    I've always understood a 'townhouse' to mean a modern three-storey terraced house, where the ground floor consists of a garage and a utility room or similar. And while I'm at it, I'll throw in 'dormer bungalow', meaning a bungalow with a small upstairs room in the roofspace, not a full upper storey. (This is Br Eng, and I'm not an estate agent ;) )
    – peterG
    Jan 17, 2017 at 20:12
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    @OldBunny2800 in AmE, yes a townhouse is one of a set of adjacent units. An older term for those is "row house". In order to get from the front door to the back door, you either walk through, or go the long way around.
    – John Feltz
    Jan 17, 2017 at 20:56

Depending on the size of the house, BrEng has the following phrase:

two-up two-down

From the Cambridge Dictionary:

a small house on two levels that has just two main rooms on the ground floor and two bedrooms on the top floor.


The word 'duplex' is used quite a lot in the Indian Real Estate Market to describe a two storeyed house and even a two storeyed (split level) apartment.

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    If you would add some links or examples for such a usage, that'd be very helpful. :)
    – NVZ
    Jan 17, 2017 at 15:19
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    In US English a 'duplex' is a specific kind of shared housing where two houses share a common wall. This would definitely be confusing.
    – Ukko
    Jan 17, 2017 at 17:42

In America, on the East coast, at least, there are several house styles that imply two stories: Gambrel, Colonial, Garrison, Cape Ann, Townhouse. All of these imply a reasonably full (as far as height goes) second floor. There are additional types which may have a second floor area that is constrained by roof pitch or other factors: Cape, Cape Cod. Generally speaking, a Split Level, Raised Ranch (or Split Entry/Split Foyer) is considered one story, as a flat Ranch house built to the same dimensions would have identical areas (only difference is each section's height above grade). A Bungalow in the New England area might have a very small and very height constrained second floor. The term Cottage in America could be anything from a beach shack to a Newport mansion from the Gilded Age. But, to be honest, house styles are rather in the eye of the beholder and local jargon and there are no hard and fast standards as to what constitutes them.

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  • Your answer sounds interesting but lacks any references to back it up; could you provide some? Jan 17, 2017 at 21:47
  • @BladorthinTheGrey: As I've said, there are no hard and fast standards, and thus no references. I was in the field of property tax assessments in New England for many years, and these were the house styles that we used. In addition, our competitors used similar descriptions, among them Tri-Level (aka Split Level), Dutch Colonial (aka a Cape Anne with the door on the shorter side), and Front-To-Back Split. Jan 23, 2017 at 20:38

I've generally heard of this as a bi-level.

::having two floors with a ground-level entry [Merriam Webster's]

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    Bi-level doesn't necessarily mean two floors. It could just mean a split-level, where a section of the house (maybe even one room) is down one or two steps. If you mean two stories, better to say "two story" explicitly. Jan 17, 2017 at 9:30

Multi-Storey [House]

(or two-storey)

adjective [usually ADJECTIVE noun]
A multi-storey building has several floors at different levels above the ground.

  • ...the Moskovski Department Store, a vast multi-story complex near the city's centre.
  • ...a multi-storey car park.
  • ...multi-storeyed apartment blocks.


I've answered my own question hesitantly, with a hope that there is a better word available.

This phrase is clear and understandable and accurately describes a building with multiple floors. However, I dislike this as it lacks any indication that the building in question is a home and seems to connote a big, modern, beast of a building. This is also just an adjective tagged on to the hypernym not a separate hyponym of house.

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    two-storey house in the US versus a ranch, all on the same floor. Not multi-storey, not for a house, only commercial real estate.
    – Lambie
    Jan 16, 2017 at 22:51
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    @Lambie I agree, but in the US usually two-story rather than storey (also, plural stories rather than storeys)
    – 1006a
    Jan 16, 2017 at 22:55
  • @1006a Yes, I cannot be help responsible for every single spelling divergence. I don't always look them up and sometimes do BrE instead of AmE.
    – Lambie
    Jan 16, 2017 at 22:59
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    @Lambie It wasn't a criticism...I was clarifying because none of us can be responsible for every spelling divergence, so I figure it's good when we each chip in whatever we can (on another site I wouldn't mention it, but this is ELU where someone out there might care).
    – 1006a
    Jan 16, 2017 at 23:04
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    @BladorthinTheGrey - If you think this is in any way an appropriate answer, then the question really needs editing. The question asks for a word for "a two floor house". It does not ask for a word for "a house of two or more floors".
    – AndyT
    Jan 17, 2017 at 11:24

In general, North American English uses the word "house" to refer to any single family dwelling, regardless of how many stories it has.

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