To Be over a Barrel (Origin)

What Is the Origin of the Saying "To Be over a Barrel"?

To have someone over the barrel means to have someone totally at your mercy. It is a nautical term, which derives from the practice of hanging a drowned, usually unconscious person over a barrel to clear their lungs of water. The fate of the "patient" was determined solely by the actions of those administering the treatment. In other words, he was at their mercy.

Would you like to offer another origin for the saying "To Be over a Barrel"? Please tell us using this form.

See Also

A list of common grammar errors A list of easily confused words A list of sayings and proverbs