over a barrel


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over a barrel

In a position of vulnerability, weakness, or powerlessness. He's had me over a barrel ever since he found out about my affair. Once Republicans got majorities in both the Senate and House of Representatives, they had Democrats over a barrel.
See also: barrel, over

*over a barrel

Fig. out of one's control; in a dilemma. (*Typically: get someone ~; have someone ~; put someone ~.) He got me over a barrel, and I had to do what he said. Ann will do exactly what I say. I've got her over a barrel.
See also: barrel, over

over a barrel

In a weak or difficult position, as in Once the competitors found a flaw in our product, they had us over a barrel. This slangy expression, first recorded in 1938, supposedly alludes to reviving a drowning victim by placing the body head down over a barrel and rolling it back and forth, so as to empty the lungs of water. The expression survives, although happily the practice does not.
See also: barrel, over

(get/have somebody) over a ˈbarrel

(informal) (put/have somebody) in a position where they are forced to do what you want: She has us over a barrel — if we don’t pay her, we’ll lose everything. This may refer to a person who has been saved from drowning and is held over a barrel (= a large round container) in order to empty their lungs of water.
See also: barrel, over

over a barrel

In a very awkward position from which extrication is difficult: During the negotiations the opposing faction had us over a barrel.
See also: barrel, over