phrases, sayings, idioms and expressions at

Over a barrel

Posted by ESC on July 05, 2009 at 18:58

In Reply to: Over a barrel posted by David FG on July 05, 2009 at 17:42:

: : What is the origin of phrase "to be over a barrel?"
: : Thank you for this wonderful service.

: Apparently it is of American origin, and the most likely derivation comes from a form of punishment, or humiliation, involving binding someone's hands and feet and rolling them over a barrel.

: A person in that situation is completely at the mercy of his captors/tormentors and thus is had 'over a barrel'.


According to my references (and on this site) it refers to a method of forcing water out of a near drowning victim's lungs.