on the barrelhead


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on the barrelhead

or

on the barrel

AMERICAN
If you pay cash on the barrelhead or on the barrel, you pay for something immediately and in cash. Customers usually pay cash on the barrelhead, so bad debts aren't much of a problem. Note: The most likely explanation for this expression comes from the days when people first started living in the American West. Saloons (= places where you could buy and drink alcohol) often consisted of just a room with a barrel (= wooden container) of drink in it, and customers who wanted to drink had to put their money on the top of the barrel before being served. Note: The usual British expression for this is on the nail.
See also: barrelhead, on