Definition of ninepins in US English:


plural noun

  • 1usually treated as singular A British game similar to bowling, using nine wooden pins and played in an alley; the traditional form of skittles.

    • ‘I doubt we'll get any rain out of it, but I like to listen to Rip Van Winkle and the boys playing ninepins all the same.’
    • ‘Not much has changed since Connecticut banned ninepins in 1841.’
    • ‘The transformation of ninepins to the tenpin game happened in North America, where the original game had also been introduced by the Dutch.’
    1. 1.1treated as plural The pins used in ninepins.
      • ‘Treat men as pawns and ninepins, and you shall suffer, as well as they.’
      • ‘Orders for games included 48 chessboards and chessmen, 12 sets of fox and geese, 6 sets of jackstraws, 9 boxes of ninepins, and 3 sets of German tactics.’
      • ‘Well, imagine some of the greatest men in France as these ninepins and then this Monsieur Caratal was the ball which could be seen coming from far away.’
      • ‘The series has its fans for one reason: scattering hordes of goons like a bowling ball through ninepins can be gratifying; and, as your efforts control the ebb and flow of battle, there is a surprising level of tactical thought involved.’


  • go down (or drop or fall) like ninepins

    • Succumb in large numbers or without much opposition.

      ‘men and horses went down like ninepins before them’
      • ‘Understandably, since she delivers on time and in full, the fellas fall like ninepins.’
      • ‘With office staff dropping like ninepins, it was at least some consolation that enough administrative staff were still standing in order to get the game called off in time.’
      • ‘The rush became a flood after the fiasco of Humanae Vitae in 1968 and seminaries, novitiates and training colleges fell like ninepins as many, if not most, priests, brothers and nuns chose lay life at a rate not seen since the Reformation.’
      • ‘The second period saw players falling like ninepins as cramp began to bite at weary limbs.’
      • ‘From Christie's Impressionist and Modern art sale on 4 May onwards, records began to fall like ninepins.’
      • ‘However, with back-row players going down like ninepins on tour, wasn't he convinced he would get the call?’
      • ‘According to information received at The Register, the regional aggregation boards are falling like ninepins.’
      • ‘Worse followed when marines started dropping like ninepins from a mysterious illness which Curry described as ‘a form of enteritis’.’
      • ‘Once the Games began, weightlifters fell like ninepins.’
      • ‘Despite some anomalies - in the number, for instance, of women voters - they seemed to show states falling like ninepins to Kerry.’