get (one) over a barrel(redirected from get them over a barrel)
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.
get someone over a barrelget 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.