'Pip pip' among expressions at risk of being lost from English language

If this sounds like a load of old codswallop, then maybe it's time to put a sock in it. Reporter Lucy Watson reports on a shift in the English language.

Some of our language's most traditional sayings and expressions are at risk of falling out of dialect, with many people no longer using them - or not sure of what they mean.

A survey has identified the top 50 phrases most at risk of dying out.

Top on the list was the term to cast "pearls before swine," with 78% of people never using it in conversation. If you want to start throwing it into your next conversation, it means you are wasting your time by offering something to somebody who doesn't appreciate it. The term originally came from the bible.

Another term on the way out (with 71% of people not using it) is "nail your colours to the mast" - meaning to speak out openly about your beliefs.

It, unsurprisingly, has a nautical background dating back to the 17th Century when ships would either lower their flag as a mark of submission - or pin their battle colours onto whatever was left of a ship if they'd lost a battle.

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Joint with that phrase, at risk of dying, is the seasonal "colder than a witch's tit" - a phrase meaning cold weather which originated from street slang.

All is not lost, however, as the survey (based on a nationally representative sample of 2,000 adults, aged between 18 and 50) found the majority of people felt it's a shame when phrases die out.

In full, here's the list of phrases on the way out and what they mean.

1. Pearls before swine 78% (never use the phrase)

You are wasting your time by offering something that is helpful or valuable to someone who does not appreciate it.

2. Nail your colours to the mast 71%

Declaring your beliefs firmly and openly.

3. Colder than a witch's tit 71%

Cold weather, thought to originate from street slang.

4. Pip pip 70%

Used to say goodbye in a cheery fashion.

5. Know your onions 68%

To be experienced in or knowledgeable about a subject.

6. A nod is as good as a wink 66%

You don't need to be blatant with a signal if someone is willing to carry out a task.

7. A stitch in time saves nine 64%

Sorting out a problem straight away, will save more work later on.

8. Ready for the knackers yard 62%

When something is in a state of ruin or failure due to having become useless.

9. I've dropped a clanger 60%

Used if you've made a big, or embarrassing mistake.

10. A fly in the ointment 59%

Something that gets in the way of a plan or enjoyment of something.

11. Keen as mustard 58%

Really enthusiastic.

12. A flash in the pan 57%

A one-hit-wonder, when sudden success is brief and not repeatable.

13. Tickety boo 57%

When all's well!

14. A load of codswallop 56%

When the content of something is rubbish or untrue.

15. A curtain twitcher 56%

A person who likes to peek at what others (or their neighbours) are doing.

16. Knickers in a twist 56%

A fairly sexist phrase about becoming upset when something is unimportant.

17. Dead as a doornail 55%

Very much not alive.

18. A dog's dinner 55%

A situation or event that is chaotic and badly organised.

19. It's chock a block 55%

When things are very busy or full.

20. Storm in a teacup 55%

If a reaction is far greater than it should be over a trivial matter.

21. Could not organise a p*** up in a brewery 54%

Used to describe somebody incapable of organising things even when it would be very easy to do so.

22. Not enough room to swing a cat 54%

Used to describe a very small space.

23. Flogging a dead horse 54%

Used to describe the process of wasting energy on a lost cause.

24. Toe the line 54%

To obey the rules.

25. Popped her clogs 54%

A colloquial term to say somebody has died.

26. Drop them a line 53%

To call or contact somebody.

27. Steal my thunder 53%

To prevent somebody from being praised for their success - often at the last minute.

28. A few sandwiches short of a picnic 53%

A mildly offensive way to refer to somebody who is not that intelligent.

29. A legend in one's own lifetime 52%

Used to describe somebody who is very famous when they're alive.

30. Be there or be square 52%

A direction to somebody to attend an event, or risk being branded uncool.

31. Fell off the back of a lorry 52%

A term to refer to products that weren't obtained entirely legally or properly.

32. A bodge job 52%

When a task is completed carelessly, poorly, and not to a proper standard.

33. Eat humble pie 52%

To make an apology and accept you were wrong.

34. Having a chinwag 52%

To have a chat.

35. Put a sock in it 52%

A direction telling somebody to stop talking.

36. Mad as a Hatter 51%

Again, a very politically correct way of saying somebody is insane.

37. Spend a penny 51%

To urinate.

38. Cool as a cucumber 51%

Calm, composed and in self-control.

39. It's gone pear shaped 51%

When things go wrong.

40. It cost a bomb 51%

To describe an item that cost a lot of money.

41. Raining cats and dogs 51%

To describe when it's raining very heavily.

42. See a man about a dog 51%

A euphemism to say you're off to the toilet.

43. It takes the biscuit 50%

To describe when somebody's actions were stupid, rude or selfish.

44. He's a good egg 50%

A term to describe somebody who's liked.

45. Snug as a bug in a rug 49%

When somebody is wrapped up, warm and cost.

46. Chuffed to bits 49%

Absolutely delighted.

47. Have a gander 49%

To have a look at, or an explore.

48. Selling like hot cakes 49%

To describe when something is selling very quickly and is popular.

49. Pardon my French 48%

A way of apologising for rude language or swear words.

50. A Turn up for the books 45%

When something occurs that is surprising or unexpected.

Independent research and insights agency Perspectus Global commissioned the poll.