‘Colder than a witch’s tit’ and other British phrases set to die out

A new poll has revealed a list of traditional British sayings which may become extinct despite the UK having one of the most rich and diverse languages in the world.

By Bill McLoughlin
A new poll has revealed a list of traditional British sayings which may become extinct despite the UK having one of the most rich and diverse languages in the world.

According to a study, there are 50 phrases that are in jeopardy of being lost from the English language.

Of those 2,000 people asked, 78 percent have never used the phrase “pearls before swine”.

A further 71 percent said they had never used “colder than a witch’s tit” or “nail your colours to the mast”.

In the poll, conducted by Perspectus Global, 70 percent do not wave goodbye with a “pip pip”.

A further 68 percent of Brits said they had never heard of or used the phrase “know your onions”.

Ellie Glason from Perspectus Global, 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.”

While a series of phrases may now become extinct, four out of five Brits believe the UK has the most descriptive language in the world.

The survey was based on a nationally representative sample of 2,000 adults, aged between 18 and 50.

British sayings such as “colder than a witch’s tit” and “a dog’s dinner” at risk of dying out.

BRITAIN’S ENDANGERED SAYINGS

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

2.       Nail your colours to the mast 71%

3.       Colder than a witch’s tit 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%

Source: ‘Colder than a witch’s tit’ and other British phrases set to die out

Bridget St John (Live) French Television 1970

By Johnny Foreigner

Here in the colonies, Bridget St John remains one of the more under-appreciated artists in the British Folk genre. Her voice is not as sweet as Sandy Denny’s, nor possessing the huskiness of latter-day Marianne Faithful, but combines a small scoop of each with a delicious melted Nico topping.
In England during the 1970s, she worked with Kevin Ayers, John Martyn and Mike Oldfield. Her first album, Ask Me No Questions was released in 1969, and during the early seventies, she shared Folk charts and BBC radio time with Sandy Denny, Nick Drake, Cat Stevens and Fairport Convention.

Born in Surrey, England, she lived periodically in London, Aix-en-Provence, France, eventually landing in Greenwich Village, New York, only to decide to take the next 20 years off from performing.

This small concert made for French television in 1970 is quite wonderful. Listen, and appreciate Bridget’s je ne sais quoi.

Little Tich and his Big Boot Dance 

Filmed in 1900 and released 1903, this film directed by Clément Maurice, shows the English performer Little Tich performing his famous ‘Big Boot Dance’.

Born Harry Relph, Little Tich was a 4 foot 6 inch (137 cm) tall English music hall comedian and dancer best known for his seemingly gravity-defying routine accomplished by the wearing of boots with soles 28 inches (71 cm) long. Originally gaining fame as a “blackface” artist, promoters on his 1887 U.S. tour made him drop the act (fearing the British accent would ruin the “illusion”) and so in its place Little Tich developed and perfected his Big Boot Dance, a full 100 years before Michael Jackson would lean in similar fashion for his “Smooth Criminal” music video. Returning to England in the 1890s, Little Tich made his West End debut in the Drury Lane pantomimes and toured Europe before setting up his own theatre company in 1895. He continued to star in popular shows until his death from a stroke in 1928 at the age of 60.

Source: Little Tich and his Big Boot Dance (1900) – The Public Domain Review