Green’s Dictionary of Slang

barrel n.1

1. [late 19C–1900s] (orig. US) a large amount, usu. of money [SE barrel, pertaining to a large amount].

2. [1940s+] a fat person [physical shape].

3. [1970s+] (drugs) in pl., LSD [physical shape].

In phrases

blue barrels (n.) (also purple barrels) [packaging]

[1970s+] (drugs) LSD.

SE in slang uses

In derivatives

barrelled (adj.) (also barrelled up)

[1910s–60s] (US) drunk.

In compounds


see separate entries.

barrel-boarder (n.)

see separate entry.

barrel fever (n.)

[late 18C+] drunkenness; thus delirium tremens.


see separate entries.

barrel-wash (n.)

[1980s] (Can.) illicitly distilled liquor.

In phrases

blow one’s barrel (v.) [the barrel is that of a gun]

[1940s] (US) to lose control.

have one’s barrel full (v.)

[late 19C] (US) to be drunk.

have someone over a barrel (v.) (also put someone over a barrel) [? 19C barrel punishment, lashing someone across a barrel and whipping them]

[late 19C+] to put at a great disadvantage, to inconvenience deliberately.

in the barrel (US)

1. [1920s+] (also in the bucket) in debt, bankrupt.

2. [1980s+] dismissed or likely to be dismissed from one’s job.

right out of the barrel (adj.)

[1910s] (US) well-dressed, fashionable.

right up one’s barrel (adj.) (also right into (one’s barrel)) [fitting snugly into a gun barrel]

[20C+] (Aus.) absolutely perfect, completely to one’s taste, exactly what one wants.