drop like flies, to

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drop like flies

To succumb to a particular problem, often an illness. This phrase is typically only used when more than one person has been adversely affected. Now that the flu is going through our school, people are dropping like flies.
See also: drop, flies, like
Farlex Dictionary of Idioms. © 2015 Farlex, Inc, all rights reserved.

drop like flies

Fig. to faint, sicken, collapse, or die, in great numbers like houseflies dying in a large group. It was a terrible year for the flu. People were dropping like flies.
See also: drop, flies, like
McGraw-Hill Dictionary of American Idioms and Phrasal Verbs. © 2002 by The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc.

drop like flies

Rapidly collapse, die, or drop out, usually referring to a group rather than an individual. For example, The words were so difficult that the spelling bee contestants were dropping like flies. The simile like flies has meant "in large numbers," as it does in this expression, since about 1600.
See also: drop, flies, like
The American Heritage® Dictionary of Idioms by Christine Ammer. Copyright © 2003, 1997 by The Christine Ammer 1992 Trust. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.

drop like flies, to

To collapse rapidly, referring to a group rather than an individual. Although this term calls to mind flies that are hit with a spray of insecticide and is, in fact, used for human beings subjected to gunfire or an epidemic of disease, like flies has meant in large numbers or quantities since Shakespeare’s time. “The common people swarm like summer flies” wrote the bard (HenryVI, Part 2, 6.8).
See also: drop, like
The Dictionary of Clichés by Christine Ammer Copyright © 2013 by Christine Ammer
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