fall like ninepins

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fall like ninepins

To succumb to a particular problem. This phrase is typically only used when more than one person has been adversely affected. Ninepins is a game similar to bowling. Primarily heard in UK. Now that the flu is going through our school, people are falling like ninepins.
See also: fall, like, ninepin
Farlex Dictionary of Idioms. © 2015 Farlex, Inc, all rights reserved.

fall like ninepins

or

go down like ninepins

or

drop like ninepins

BRITISH, 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.
See also: fall, like, ninepin
Collins COBUILD Idioms Dictionary, 3rd ed. © HarperCollins Publishers 2012
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References in periodicals archive ?
Business Staff john_cranage@mrn.co.uk - Coventry Building Society grew by 12 per cent to become a pounds 7.2 billion business last year as records fell like ninepins.
Track records fell like ninepins at the gala and Clemenson's Droopys Candice (8-1) started the trend when landing the Tommy Judge Memorial Puppies over 515 metres, clocking 27.67sec.