cash on the barrelhead

Idioms & Phrases

cash on the barrelhead

Immediate payment, as in They won't extend credit; it's cash on the barrelhead or no sale. The lexicographer Charles Earle Funk surmised that this term originated in the days when upended barrels served as both seats and tables in bars, and customers were required to pay for their drinks immediately, literally putting their money on the top (head) of a barrel.

The American Heritage® Dictionary of Idioms by Christine Ammer.
Copyright © 1997. Published by Houghton Mifflin.
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