have (somebody) over a barrel


1. have/put (someone) in a difficult situation or at your mercy






Check Icon How to Memorize

my boss has me over a barrel because he/she knows I need the work

Check Icon 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.

Check Icon 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.

Check Icon 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. 

Related Links