Expressions used in Everyday Spoken English in Social and Professional contexts

have (somebody) over a barrel

have over a barrelhave somebody over a barrel
1) have/put (someone) in a difficult situation or at your mercy
  • How to MemorizePopularity MediumProfessional MediumSocial
    • my boss has me over a barrel because he/she knows I need the work
  • Analysis
    The idiom to 'have someone over a barrel' means to have someone in a position where you can influence them to do what you want because you have given them very little choice or limited options. This phrase is often used in relation to a financial situation. similar in meaning to 'have someone on the ropes' or to be 'between a rock and a hard place'. To be 'over a barrel' means to be in a position where you are vulnerable or can be taken advantage of.
  • Social Examples (Advance)
    1. I have Sam over a barrel because he knows that I will tell the police about what happened if he doesn't do what I ask.
    2. He has me over a barrel since he caught me out with Johns wife.
  • Professional Examples (Advance)
    1. Staff demands were not met as management knows they have them over a barrel due to a shortage of jobs.
    2. The price is so high because the seller has us over a barrel. There's no one else we can go to to buy the product. 
  • Further Suggestions
Share post on :