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go down like ninepins
To succumb to a particular problem, often an illness. This phrase is typically only used when more than one person has been adversely affected. Ninepins is a game that is similar to bowling. Primarily heard in UK. Now that the flu is going through our school, people are going down like ninepins.
fall like ninepinsor
go down like ninepinsor
drop like ninepinsBRITISH, OLD-FASHIONED
If people or things fall like ninepins, go down like ninepins or drop like ninepins, a lot of them are very quickly injured, killed or destroyed. Sgt Russell Smith, 35, told of his terror at seeing officers `falling like ninepins'. There was a time when Liverpool players never seemed to get injured, but now they're going down like ninepins. Note: Ninepins are skittles.
go down (or drop or fall) like ninepinstopple or succumb in large numbers.
1994 Beryl Gilroy Sunlight on Sweet Water They were falling like ninepins to the wizardry of our fast bowler, Bachan.
ˌgo down, ˌdrop, etc. like ˈninepins(informal)
1 (of large numbers of people) become ill/sick, be killed or die at the same time: In last year’s flu epidemic both children and teachers at this school were going down like ninepins. ♢ As the enemy advanced, men and horses went down like ninepins.
2 (of businesses, etc.) fail, go out of business, etc: Small businesses are going down like ninepins at the moment.
In the game of ninepins, you roll a ball towards a group of nine wooden objects (= skittles) in order to knock down as many of them as possible.