'Dead as a doornail' phrases phased out

Traditional sayings, popular when pre-decimalisation florins and farthings currency were also coined, could be “ready for the knacker's yard”.

Chris Page
Monday, 6th February 2023, 12:04pm
'Dead as a doornail' phrases phased out

We discover why not all is "tickety boo" with once everyday expressions, "don't get your knickers in a twist!" going out of style like great grandma's knee-length bloomers!

Without causing "a storm in a teacup," some of our staple sayings have seen better days. Deeply rooted in British history, certain customary phrases are today fast becoming "dead as a doornail".

And so it goes on, 21st century social media increasingly proving "fly in the ointment' for the nation's bygone lexicon.

"Many of us today would be totally lost hearing what could have been considered common language back in the day," confirm survey commissioners Gala Bingo.

"With the evolution of culture, phrases like 'throw a spanner in the works' might not be as popular as back in the day.

"Have you ever wondered where some of these phrases come from and what they mean?" they ask.

"Although some may be familiar amongst young and old, there are many truly UK sayings that are getting lost or have been forgotten.

"It comes as no surprise today's generation may not be familiar with certain phrases."

They continue: "Simply put, language goes through many changes, cultural resets and additional factors such as trends and everyday slang, which have become integrated in the way we use words.

"Add to that the popularity of social media being one of the largest mediums of communication, which has also changed the way we speak, popularising viral pop culture phrases through the ages."

Ask we Boomers, born between 1945 and '65, what On Fleek (good, attractive or stylish, Urban Dictionary advises) or That’s Lit (intense, fun or exciting, street-corner kids confirm) mean, we'll likely be clueless as Cher's mid '90s rom-com.

Bingo bosses https://www.galabingo.com/ add: "Language is meant to change and evolve through the ages.

"The UK population has more than doubled since 1871, when just under 31.5 million lived here.

"With cultural diversity and varying languages, it's understandable what were common mostly used terms and phrases will evolve to adapt to modern times we are familiar with today."

They report updates to conventional sayings in the study, conducted by Perspectus Global, research revealing percentage of people who never use the phrase, sharing meaning and most popular modern alternative.

So, dear reader, pip pip! Or, if you now prefer, cheerio!

Do you still say any of these declining phrases?

Pearls before swine - 78% (percentage of people who have never used the phrase)

Meaning: You are wasting your time by offering something that is helpful or valuable to someone who does not appreciate it.

More popular version used today: Flogging a dead horse.

Nail your colours to the mast - 71%

Meaning: To declare your beliefs firmly and openly.

More popular version used today: Keep it 100.

Pip pip - 70%

Meaning: Used to express farewell.

More popular version used today: Cheerio.

Know your onions - 68%

Meaning: To be very knowledgeable about something.

More popular version used today: Still used as is.

A nod is as good as a wink - 66%

Meaning: Said to mean that it is not necessary to explain something further.

More popular version used today: Say less.

A stitch in time saves nine - 64%

Meaning: If you sort out a problem immediately it may save a lot of extra work later.

More popular version used today: Still used as is.

Ready for the knacker's yard - 62%

Meaning: In a state of ruin or failure due to having become useless or obsolete.

More popular version used today: Gone to the dogs.

I've dropped a clanger - 60%

Meaning: To make a very bad or embarrassing mistake.

More popular version used today: Muck up.

A fly in the ointment - 59%

Meaning: A minor irritation that spoils the success or enjoyment of something.

More popular version used today: All to pot.

Keen as mustard - 58%

Meaning: Extremely eager or enthusiastic.

More popular version used today: Be full on / I am so keen / Up for it.

A flash in the pan - 57%

Meaning: A thing or person whose sudden but brief success is not repeated or repeatable.

More popular version used today: Still used as is.

Tickety boo - 57%

Meaning: Everything is fine or in good order.

More popular version used today: Legit/ Chuffed to bits/ Bob's your uncle/ Hunky dory.

A curtain twitcher - 56%

Meaning: A nosy person who watches his or her neighbours.

More popular version used today: Nosey Parker.

Knickers in a twist - 56%

Meaning: To become upset about something that is not very important.

More popular version used today: Cheesed off/ Miffed.

Dead as a doornail - 55%

Meaning: Emphatically dead.

More popular version used today: Still used as is.

A dog's dinner - 55%

Meaning: A mess or a poor piece of work.

More popular version used today:

It's chock-a-block - 55%

Meaning: Crammed full of people or things

More popular version used today: Still used as is.

Storm in a teacup - 55%

Meaning: Great outrage or excitement about a trivial matter.

More popular version used today: Still used as is.

Gala Bingo has found some unique updates to 20 traditional phrases from a survey conducted by Perspectus Global..jpg
Word up, way we communicate adapts with ages!
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