If you’re over a barrel, it means you’re fucked in one way or another. Sounds like a lot of fun! One source claims that the barrel in question is on the end of a gun, a revolver to be more accurate. And, that’s one barrel I don’t imagine anyone wants to be a part of!
Another source says the barrel we’re talking about was a metaphoric political jab at President Grover Cleveland having been beaten at his own congressional games he supposedly liked to play.
The origin that seems the likeliest though, has to do with a form of late 1800’s east coast, college fraternity hazing. The victims of this practice were stripped naked, bound at the feet and wrists, then strapped to a barrel caked with ice. Once securely at the mercy of the hazers, the victims were branded on their backs with a red, hot fraternity emblem! Talk about dedicated pledges!
Taking your turn in the barrel may actually be less pleasant than being over one, depending on your prerogative of course! There’re many sources for this figure of speech, but they all tell the same story!
This phrase means that everyone has to do the shitty part of a job, at least once in a while. It seems to come from horny sailors or loggers being at sea or in logging camps for months on end. As the story goes, and I could find no proof of it being true, one person would get inside a barrel and the lid was placed back on top so no one could tell who was inside.
Then, anyone interested could walk over to the barrel and put their boner through a hole in the side, getting anonymous, co-worker, man sex! After everyone was finished, the barrel-sexer had fulfilled his duty for that rotation, and a new person would have to take their turn in the barrel the next time! Job security? Maybe!
My advice, stay away from barrels unless you mean it!
Thanks for reading!