over a barrel

Idiom Definition

Idiom Definition - over a barrel

"over a barrel"

in a weak or difficult situation in which you have no choice about what to do


Related words and phrases:

Idiom Scenario 1

Idiom Definition - over a barrel

Two colleagues are talking ...

Colleague 1:  We are going into these negotiations with an impossible position. They are currently the only supplier available and we absolutely must have their product or we shut down the business.

Colleague 2:  Yes. They will have us over a barrel but we do have one slim bargaining position. If they treat us fairly, then when another supplier does come on line, we can entertain the notion of continuing to buy their product.

Idiom Scenario 2

Idiom Definition - over a barrel

Two friends are talking ...

Friend 1:  Are you all ready for your trip?

Friend 2:  Tickets purchased, bags packed, passport in hand. I'm ready.

Friend 1:  What about exchanging some money?

Friend 2:  I'll just do that at the airport.

Friend 1:  That may not be advisable. Those money exchange bureaus at airports know that you have no choice but to pay whatever exorbitant exchange rate they charge. At that point, they have you over a barrel. Pay what they charge or have no local currency when you arrive at your destination.

over a barrel - Usage:


Usage Frequency Index:   205   click for frequency by country

over a barrel - Gerund Form:

There is no gerund form for over a barrel.

over a barrel - Examples:

1)  If not, then Martin undoubtedly had the province over a barrel, and could easily have demanded payout of the severance package in exchange for signing ...

2)  ... but at the same time I don't expect to be bent over a barrel, then smile as everyone else sings "Don't worry, be happy".

3)  ... has managed to tie the hands of the RBA while simultaneously putting them over a barrel.

4)  ... and I'm not saying they should be held down over a barrel. We were just asking for a commitment to engage.

5)  To be fair, unions do have the Government over a barrel. But Mr Donohoe has shown some mettle and brains by putting the value of ...

6)  There is concern China has Australia over a barrel economically and they are suspicious of ...

7)  Retailers didn't used to bother with pre-Christmas sales because they had customers over a barrel. Now sales are all over the place at all times of the year.

8)  They have us over a barrel as I have a direct debit for $80 a fortnight set up to cover both ...

9)  Maybe they just don't like it when someone holds them over a barrel instead of it being the other way around?

10)  Yes, Nick's pretty much got Steve over a barrel. Unless they move away, this is it for Steve.

11)  ... had him over a barrel with that promissory note, so he came face-to-face with ...

12)  And OPEC's ability to dangle the global economy over a barrel is now sharply diminished.

13)  You've got them over a barrel, so if they do start causing trouble, you can just get rid of ...

14)  At that point, the unions had him over a barrel, so they walked out.

15)  They have tenants over a barrel, especially in this landlord's market.

16)  You aren't allowed to supply one yourself so they have you over a barrel.

17)  The US has us over a barrel and gives us a take it or leave it price.

18)  ... power of the international drug companies means they can still effectively hold countries over a barrel on the prices they will accept for their products, ...

19)  ... who held the studio over a barrel and got a three-picture deal and a huge fee off them.

20)  ... but when he confronts her on it, he realises she has him over a barrel too when Charity tells him that she knows he shot Robert.