get (one) over a barrel

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get (one) over a barrel

To cause one to be in a position of vulnerability, weakness, or powerlessness. Now that we know about his affair, we've got him over a barrel—he'll give us whatever we want to buy our silence.
See also: barrel, get, over

get someone over a barrel

get someone in a helpless position; have someone at your mercy. informal
This phrase perhaps refers to the condition of a person who has been rescued from drowning and is placed over a barrel to clear their lungs of water.
See also: barrel, get, over, someone