Over A Barrel | How to Use the Phrase “Over A Barrel” Correctly?

Have you ever heard someone use the term ‘over a barrel’ during an English conversation? If you have, you may be wondering what the phrase means. Let’s take a look at its meaning and also how we can use it in our everyday conversations. We will also look at the history of the term and where it came from in the first place.

Over A Barrel

“Over A Barrel” Meaning

The term ‘over a barrel’ means to be in a difficult or helpless situation. It usually refers to a situation where there will be a bad result no matter what decision is being made.

Origin of this idiom

The term ‘over a barrel’ is not known to have a definitely clear origin although it is believed that the term may have come from when sailors were placed over a barrel to be flogged as punishment for their bad behaviour.

“Over A Barrel” Examples

Examples in Statements

This is a statement being made by a husband to his wife.

  • ‘You’re really putting me over a barrel by asking me to choose between my mother’s birthday and your party.’

Here is a statement which is being made in a newspaper article.

  • ‘The politician was really over a barrel trying to please everyone.’

Helpful examples:

  • They’ve got us over a barrel. Either we agree to their terms or we lose the money.
  • You have them over a barrel on this issue, with all the right on your side.
  • She knows I need the work so she’s got me over a barrel in terms of what she pays me.

Conversation Examples

If you are curious to learn how the term ‘over a barrel’ can be used in a conversation, here are some examples of how that might work.

The first conversation is taking place between two brothers.

  • Person 1: “Can you look after my daughter this weekend while I take my wife away?”
  • Person 2: “You know I have to work this weekend.”
  • Person 1: “I know but it’s my wife’s birthday and I really want to treat her.”
  • Person 2: “You’re putting me over a barrel here.”

The next conversation is happening between two friends.

  • Person 1: “Are you going to come to my stag do next week?”
  • Person 2: “My wife will not be happy if I do.”
  • Person 1: “Oh come on, you’re not going to let me down are you?”
  • Person 2: “Well, I’ll have to upset either you or my wife so I’m really over a barrel here.”

Other Ways to Say “Over A Barrel”

There are many other ways in which you can express the meaning of the term ‘over a barrel.’

Here are some examples of other things you can say which carry the same meaning.

Meaning of “Over A Barrel” | Picture

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