scrape the bottom of the barrel

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English[edit]

Etymology[edit]

Derived from the historical practice in the early United States of storing food in barrels; when food supplies ran low, only what was on the very bottom of the barrel remained, and had to be removed by scraping.

Verb[edit]

scrape the bottom of the barrel (third-person singular simple present scrapes the bottom of the barrel, present participle scraping the bottom of the barrel, simple past and past participle scraped the bottom of the barrel)

  1. (idiomatic) To use the least desirable parts of something.
    They must really have been scraping the bottom of the barrel if they couldn't find a better design than that.

Related terms[edit]