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“That takes the biscuit” – old fashioned phrases are heading for the “knacker’s yard”, claims report.

Well, I’ll go to the foot of our stairs!

A survey has found dozens of old-fashioned everyday phrases that pepper the rich English language are “withering on the vine”.

Phrases good enough for Shakespeare and Dicken are now “pearls before swine”.

We no longer “know our onions” as common usage heads for “the knacker’s yard”.

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More than 2,000 adults aged between 18 and 50 had no idea – or barely used – historical phrases.

Nearly 80 per cent rarely said, “nail your colours to the mast” or “a stitch in time saves nine”.

More than half had never been “to see a man about a dog”.

Ellie Glason, from Perspectus Global, which commissioned the poll, said:

“It’s interesting to see from our research, how language evolves and changes over the years.

“It would seem that many of the phrases which were once commonplace in Britain are seldom used nowadays.”

Britain’s 50 ‘endangered’ sayings:

(Percentage of recipients who never use the phrase)

  1. Pearls before swine 78%
  2. Nail your colours to the mast 71%
  3. Colder than a witch’s t– 71%
  4. Pip pip 70%
  5. Know your onions 68%
  6. A nod is as good as a wink 66%
  7. A stitch in time saves nine 64%
  8. Ready for the knackers yard 62%
  9. I’ve dropped a clanger 60%
  10. A fly in the ointment 59%
  11. Keen as mustard 58%
  12. A flash in the pan 57%
  13. Tickety boo 57%
  14. A load of codswallop 56%
  15. A curtain twitcher 56%
  16. Knickers in a twist 56%
  17. Dead as a doornail 55%
  18. A dog’s dinner 55%
  19. It’s chock a block 55%
  20. Storm in a teacup 55%
  21. Could not organise a p— up in a brewery 54%
  22. Not enough room to swing a cat 54%
  23. Flogging a dead horse 54%
  24. Toe the line 54%
  25. Popped her clogs 54%
  26. Drop them a line 53%
  27. Steal my thunder 53%
  28. A few sandwiches short of a picnic 53%
  29. A legend in one’s own lifetime 52%
  30. Be there or be square 52%
  31. Fell off the back of a lorry 52%
  32. A bodge job 52%
  33. Eat humble pie 52%
  34. Having a chinwag 52%
  35. Put a sock in it 52%
  36. Mad as a Hatter 51%
  37. Spend a penny 51%
  38. Cool as a cucumber 51%
  39. It’s gone pear shaped 51%
  40. It cost a bomb 51%
  41. Raining cats and dogs 51%
  42. See a man about a dog 51%
  43. It takes the biscuit 50%
  44. He’s a good egg 50%
  45. Snug as a bug in a rug 49%
  46. Chuffed to bits 49%
  47. Have a gander 49%
  48. Selling like hot cakes 49%
  49. Pardon my French 48%
  50. A Turn up for the books 45%

 

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