A recent study by research agency Perspectus Global has some stark news for fans of the English language: a whole hatful of British sayings are at risk of dying out.
This is likely because the way people communicate has changed dramatically since these sayings were introduced (just think about how strange “hang up the phone” is to someone who only ever uses a mobile!)
But that doesn’t mean some of them aren’t worth keeping around! Old sayings tend to be very expressive, often funny and colourful ways to brighten up everyday speech.
They allude to times past, old practices, films or books. Every one is like a history lesson!
And for that reason, I hope a few of them stick around for a bit longer.
Below are the top 20 at most risk of disappearing. The number in brackets represents the percentage of people in the Perspectus Global survey who have never used the phrase before.
Endangered British sayings
- Pearls before swine (78%)
- Nail your colours to the mast (71%)
- Pip pip (70%)
- Know your onions (68%)
- A nod is as good as a wink (66%)
- A stitch in time saves nine (64%)
- Ready for the knackers yard (62%)
- I’ve dropped a clanger (60%)
- A fly in the ointment (59%)
- Keen as mustard (58%)
- A flash in the pan (57%)
- Tickety boo (57%)
- A load of codswallop (56%)
- A curtain twitcher (56%)
- Knickers in a twist (56%)
- Dead as a doornail (55%)
- A dog’s dinner (55%)
- It’s chock a block (55%)
- Storm in a teacup (55%)
- Not enough room to swing a cat (54%)
How many of these sayings do you use on a regular basis? What about your children, or grandchildren?