Green’s Dictionary of Slang

barrel n.1

1. (orig. US) a large amount, usu. of money [SE barrel, pertaining to a large amount].

L.C. Baker Hist. U.S. Secret Service 483: He said at Surrattsville that he meant to make a barrel of money, or his neck would stretch.
E. Field Culture’s Garland 21: [He] is making a barrel of money in Chicago.
[US]J.P. Quinn Fools of Fortune 357: The mysterious [...] friend has a ‘barrel of money’.
[UK]A. Binstead Pitcher in Paradise 251: While the Marters were merely well-to-do, the Amos’s [...] had barrels of it.
[US]S. Ford Shorty McCabe 162: ‘He left a barrel, then?’ ‘A cellarful,’ says Sadie.
[US] ‘Bill Peters’ in Lingenfelter et al. Songs of the Amer. West (1968) 60: When they brung his body home / A barrel of tears was shed.
[US]A. Irvine My Lady of the Chimney Corner 118: On one of his semi-annual visits to Antrim, Hughie got into a barrel of trouble.
[US]Van Loan ‘The Spotted Sheep’ in Taking the Count 99: ‘Father left him money,’ said Smalley. A barrel of it,’ supplemented Davis.
[US]T. Thursday ‘Shorter Hours, Longer Pay’ in Top-Notch 1 Sept. [Internet] We’ve got a barrel of trouble—the whole works have struck!
[US]S.J. Perelman in Marschall That Old Gang o’ Mine (1984) 52: Having a barrel of good clean fun.
[US]S. Kingsley Dead End Act III: Yuh loin a barrel a good tings in rifawm school.
[US]T. Capote Breakfast at Tiffany’s 36: He’s written barrels of the most marvellous stories.
[US]W. Murray Sweet Ride 139: And I left my Dollie [...] for this barrel of laughs!
[US](con. late 1940s) E. Thompson Tattoo (1977) 650: We’ll just lay in a barrel of those pills you take.
[UK]A. Bleasdale Scully 36: They’d had a barrel or two already, you could tell by the way they was walking up the steps on their knees.
[UK]F. Taylor Auf Wiedersehen Pet Two 279: That didn’t sound like a barrel of laughs.
[UK]Indep. on Sun. Rev. 20 June 57: It’s been a barrel of laughs.
[UK]K. Richards Life 271: The next day he was brooding again. Not a barrel of laughs.

2. a fat person [physical shape].

Lord Harcourt in Daily Chronicle 16 July 1/5: When that measure reached the House of Lords it was met with a barricade of barrels insufficiently disguised in robes and coronets .
[UK]S. Jackson Indiscreet Guide to Soho 45: A little barrel of a man with a large black hat.
[US]J.T. Farrell ‘Milly and the Porker’ in Amer. Dream Girl (1950) 197: ‘That barrel, uh ...’ growled Porky.
[US]J. Wambaugh Golden Orange (1991) 68: Gone! Stolen by that barrel of guts! That heartless, three-hundred-pound monster.
[NZ]P. Shannon Davey Darling 32: He was a real barrel of demons, the Old Man.

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

[US]E.E. Landy Underground Dict. (1972).
[US]L. Young et al. Recreational Drugs.
[US]ONDCP Street Terms 2: Barrels — LSD.

In phrases

SE in slang uses

In derivatives

barrelled (adj.) (also barrelled up)

(US) drunk.

[US]G.A. England ‘Rural Locutions of Maine and Northern New Hampshire’ in DN IV:ii 68: barrelled up, adj. Intoxicated.
[US](con. 1920s) J.T. Farrell Judgement Day in Studs Lonigan (1936) 532: I’d like to get barrelled to-night.
[US]J.T. Farrell ‘A Sunday in April’ in Fellow Countrymen (1937) 429: Kind of ashamed of yourself for some damn fool clown stunt you had pulled the night before when you were barrelled.
[US]Wentworth & Flexner DAS 21/1: barrelled up Drunk.
[US]Ragen & Finston World’s Toughest Prison 790: barreled – To be drunk.

In compounds


see separate entries.

barrel-boarder (n.)

see separate entry.

barrel fever (n.)

drunkenness; thus delirium tremens.

[UK]Grose Classical Dict. of the Vulgar Tongue (3rd edn) n.p.: Barrel Fever. He died of the barrel fever; he killed himself by drinking.
[UK]Lex. Balatronicum.
[UK]B.M. Carew Life and Adventures.
[US]R. Waln Hermit in America on Visit to Phila. 2nd series 26: Must look out for a barrel fever.
[UK]Egan Grose’s Classical Dict. of the Vulgar Tongue.
[UK]W. Holloway Dict. of Provincialisms 8/2: Barrel-Fever, A violent propensity to drunkenness, or sickness.
[UK]Duncombe New and Improved Flash Dict.
[US]Matsell Vocabulum 10: barrel fever. Delirium tremens.
[US]Trumble Sl. Dict. (1890).
[US] ‘Jargon of the Und.’ in DN V 438: Barrel-fever, The delirium tremens.
[US]A. Hardin ‘Volstead English’ in AS VII:2 87: Terms referring to the state of intoxication: Have barrel fever.
[US]Berrey & Van den Bark Amer. Thes. Sl. 157: Delirium tremens. Barrel fever, [...] shivery-shakes, snakes, snakes in the boots.
[Aus]Baker Popular Dict. Aus. Sl. (2nd edn).
[Aus]N. Pulliam I Travelled a Lonely Land (1957) 230/1: barrel fever – delirium tremens.

see separate entries.

barrel-wash (n.)

(Can.) illicitly distilled liquor.

[Can]Totally True Diaries of an Eighties Roller Queen [Internet] 9 Aug. The stuff was moonshine and came out of a barrel. They call it barrel wash. I had three barrel wash and two beer and two drinks of whisky. I didn’t think the stuff worked and then an hour later it hit me like a brick wall.

In phrases

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

(US) to lose control.

Carter Devils 245: ‘Arab,’ laughed Finkelstein, ‘You’re blowing your barrel. No man’ll step out to be killed.’.
have one’s barrel full (v.)

(US) to be drunk.

[US]‘Mark Twain’ Connecticut Yankee 46: That same old weary tale [...] he will tell till he dieth, every time he hath gotten his barrel full and feelth his exaggeration-mill a-working.
have someone over a barrel (v.) (also put someone over a barrel) [? 19C barrel punishment, lashing someone across a barrel and whipping them]

to put at a great disadvantage, to inconvenience deliberately.

[US]Indep. Record (Helena, MT) 12 Oct. 4/1: The Hon. Daniel Webster Voorhees grows melodramatically maudlin [...] He will feel better after the silver boys have rolled him over a barrel.
Woodland (CA) Daily Democrat 7 Jan. 2/1: To use a vulgar expression, a Republican congress gleefully assembled in Washington for the express purpose of getting President Cleveland ‘over a barrel.’.
[US]E.W. Calder ‘Too Many Diamonds’ in Spicy Detective Stories Nov. [Internet] ‘You’ve got me over a barrel!’ he whined.
[US]I. Shulman Cry Tough! 19: You’ve got me across a barrel.
[US]J. Thompson Criminal (1993) 71: Tell him you tried to push the wrong guy around, and he’s got you over a barrel.
[Aus]F.J. Hardy Yarns of Billy Borker 44: I thought Melbourne Mick had Sydney Sam over the barrel.
[NZ]R. Morrieson Pallet on the Floor 89: I tell you, we’ve got him over a barrel.
[US]S. King It (1987) 347: It may just be the barrel I have you over. Wot-wot?
[UK]D. Lodge Therapy (1996) 81: To be frank, you and Jake have us over a barrel on this one.
D.K. Daniel Harry Reasoner 24: Harry denied he was the father or even had enjoyed relations with the girl, but he contended she had him ‘over a barrel’.
[UK]Guardian 6 July 23/3: EDF does not have us over a barrel on this because we have other low-carbon options.
in the barrel (US)

1. (also in the bucket) in debt, bankrupt.

C. Spand ‘In the Barrel Blues’ [lyrics] Hard luck done come in got me in the barrel.
[US]Z.N. Hurston ‘Story in Harlem Sl.’ in Novels and Stories (1995) 102: A red hot pimp like you say you is, ain’t got no business in the barrel.
[US]S. King Misery (1988) 169: ‘Arrears. That means in the bucket, doesn’t it?’ ‘In the bucket, in the hole, behind. Yes.’.
[US]Bentley & Corbett Prison Sl. 15: Out in the Water In debt. (Archaic: in the barrel, in the hole, on the nut).

2. dismissed or likely to be dismissed from one’s job.

[US]H. Gould Fort Apache, The Bronx 36: You puttin’ this kid in the barrel already?
right out of the barrel (adj.)

(US) well-dressed, fashionable.

[US]A. Baer Two & Three 18 Apr. [synd. col.] All the girls will be right out of the barrel on Easter Sunday. They’ll be furnished new from their bunions to their hat pins.
right up one’s barrel (adj.) (also right into (one’s barrel)) [fitting snugly into a gun barrel]

(Aus.) absolutely perfect, completely to one’s taste, exactly what one wants.

[Aus]Bulletin (Sydney) 22 Sept. 27/1: If he comes that game Oi’ll knock a hole as big as a sewer-poipe thro’ him. It’ll jist be roight into me ’and – thim’s the sort of chaps that soot me down to the ground.
[Aus]Sydney Sportsman (Surry Hills, NSW) 4 Mar. 2/1: Kentucky [...] The five is right into his barrel. There’s nothing wrong with his condition, and his weight’s O.K .
[Aus]D. Stivens Courtship of Uncle Henry 69: I was at Drake’s in the Haymarket seven years. Anything in this line is right into my barrel.
[Aus]‘No. 35’ Argot in G. Simes DAUS (1993).