Word and Phrase Origins

Where did the phrase like shooting fish in a barrel originate What does it mean?

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Answer

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Wiki User
09/15/2011

It originated from when two men were having a shooting contest. They each said what each other had to shoot. Number 1 said to shoot a bird in a tree and Number 2 said to shoot a fish in a barrel- thinking that it would be very hard. Apparently- shooting fish in a barrel was incredibly easy! This was because the vibration of the water ,once it was shot ,was enough to kill the fish in it! EG: Doing a somersault is like shooting fish in a barrel. It means that something is very easy!

While the above answer may be possible, it seems a bit unlikely to me. Prior to the days of refrigeration, fish were packed and stored in large barrels. The barrels were packed to the rim full of fish. As such, any shot the entered the barrel would be guaranteed to hit at least one of them. This being the case, nothing would be easier than shooting fish in a barrel.