ninepins

What is the meaning and origin of "fall like ninepins"?

By Sa Ra Saran, Sri Lanka (02.12.2006

When you say that the soldiers were falling like ninepins during the battle, what you mean is that they were being killed very quickly by the enemies. The expression "falling like ninepins" is normally used to indicate that people are being overcome very quickly — dying, falling, or becoming ill very quickly. It is also possible to say, "drop like ninepins".

Here are a few examples.

* On the fifth day, the batsmen fell like ninepins.

* If this disease spreads, people will drop like ninepins.

* The students were trying to follow the gym instructor, but they were dropping like ninepins. It was so funny.

I understand that this is an expression mainly used in British English. Ninepins or "skittles" as it is sometimes called, is the name of a game. The aim of this game is to knock down nine bottle shaped objects (ninepins) by rolling a ball at them. Sounds a lot like "bowling", doesn't it?



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