The phrase like shooting fish in a barrel is a simile that means something is easy to do.
The Origin Of ‘Like Shooting Fish In a Barrel’
How easy is it to shoot fish in a barrel? That depends on a few factors. For example, how big is the barrel? A traditional barrel is large enough to hold 42 gallons of water. The bigger the barrel is, the more space the fish would have to move around, making them harder to hit.
Other factors to consider would be: How many fish are in the barrel and what size are they? A barrel filled to the brim with large fish would make for easy targets. On the other hand, shooting one tiny fish would be far more challenging. Did the person who coined this phrase ever think of these sorts of questions?
This Idiom Was Tested
A television show called MythBusters put the “shooting fish in a barrel” idiom to the test. The results were that, if a barrel was filled with water, it would indeed be easy to shoot the fish. Why? Because fish are sensitive to changes in water pressure, so when the bullet entered the water, the resulting shockwave it created was enough to kill the fish.
Anyways, as for how old this saying is, the earliest I could find it in print is from the Bunbury Herald newspaper, 1912:
“Up to this time it had all been easy as shooting fish in a barrel; but after a while No. 9 would come pounding down from Huntington, and then I knew there would be several kinds of things to pay.”
- I have a small apartment, so keeping it tidy is like shooting fish in a barrel.
- Solving this puzzle was as easy as pie.
- I’ve always found the chore of doing laundry to be a walk in the park.
- Finding a recipe for chicken salad is a piece of cake.