Ahoy hoy! When the telephone was first invented in the 1870s, Alexander Graham Bell thought that the appropriate way to answer it was not a simple “hello” but instead the phrase “ahoy hoy”. It survived for a while into the next decade – and is still used by Mr Burns on The Simpsons but eventually faded away.

Language changes – and some phrases are lost to history. Our latest Perspectus Global survey delved into the traditional sayings that are falling by the wayside.

We revealed a list of 30 phrases that under 50s were no longer using, and the research has so far been covered across many media outlets, including the Daily Mail, the Mail Online, the Telegraph, Telegraph Online, the Mirror, the Sun and the Daily Express and even The Times Radio:



Why did the research work so well for national news? In PR, we all know that the media love a story that kills off an old tradition and shows a shift in behaviour.

And how language is changing, especially with the rapid growth of digital comms, is of particular interest.

The research also gives a nice burst of nostalgia for readers who remember and still use some of the sayings. And has talkability – ‘what, you’ve no idea what pear shaped means!’. If you want to talk to us about conducting research for your brand that follows this generational shift pattern – and bags you heaps of coverage – get in touch info@perspectusglobal.com

And below is the full list of sayings that may soon be extinct.

Pearls before swine 78% (of under 50s never use the phrase)
Nail your colours to the mast 71%
Colder than a witch’s tit 71%
Pip pip 70%
Know your onions 68%
A nod is as good as a wink 66%
A stitch in time saves nine 64%
Ready for the knackers yard 62%
I’ve dropped a clanger 60%
A fly in the ointment 59%
Keen as mustard 58%
A flash in the pan 57%
Tickety boo 57%
A load of codswallop 56%
A curtain twitcher 56%
Knickers in a twist 56%
Dead as a doornail 55%
A dog’s dinner 55%
It’s chock a block 55%
Storm in a teacup 55%
Couldn’t organise a p*ss up in a brewery 54%
Not enough room to swing a cat 54%
Flogging a dead horse 54%
Toe the line 54%
Popped her clogs 54%
Drop them a line 53%
Steal my thunder 53%
A few sandwiches short of a picnic 53%
A legend in one’s own lifetime 52%
Be there or be square 52%
Fell off the back of a lorry 52%
A bodge job 52%
Eat humble pie 52%
Having a chinwag 52%
Put a sock in it 52%
Mad as a Hatter 51%
Spend a penny 51%
Cool as a cucumber 51%
It’s gone pear shaped 51%
It cost a bomb 51%
Raining cats and dogs 51%
See a man about a dog 51%
It takes the biscuit 50%
He’s a good egg 50%
Snug as a bug in a rug 49%
Chuffed to bits 49%
Have a gander 49%
Selling like hot cakes 49%
Pardon my French 48%
A Turn up for the books 45%