over a barrel

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1912 illustration of an inmate being punished in an American prison


over a barrel ‎(not comparable)

  1. (idiomatic) In a disadvantageous or helpless situation, especially one in which one may be controlled or victimized.
    • 1947 Sept. 1, "Happy Day," Time:
      Ford had the U.A.W. over a barrel; if it failed to sign by midnight, the U.A.W. would be forced to give up its union shop.




  • over a barrel” in Dictionary.com Unabridged, v1.0.1, Lexico Publishing Group, 2006.
  • over a barrel” in Merriam-Webster Online Dictionary, Merriam-Webster Online.