go down like ninepins

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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.
See also: down, go, like, ninepin
Farlex Dictionary of Idioms. © 2022 Farlex, Inc, all rights reserved.

go down (or drop or fall) like ninepins

topple 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.
See also: down, go, like, ninepin
Farlex Partner Idioms Dictionary © Farlex 2017

ˌgo down, ˌdrop, etc. like ˈninepins

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.
See also: go, like, ninepin
Farlex Partner Idioms Dictionary © Farlex 2017
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