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"Scraping the barrel" – Phrase of the week

Written by the Bell Team

The English language has a large number of strange sayings that are commonly used in everyday life. 

For a student living in the UK and learning English as a second language these can be very confusing so every week we do our best to try and explain a few for you!

Phrase    “Scraping the barrel”    
  • “Have you heard? The new Saw film is out next week. They’re really scraping the barrel now, it must be, like, the 10th film!”
  • Rihanna’s really scraping the barrel, her new song sounds just like the last one!
  • They’re really scraping the barrel for sales assistants here, aren’t they? They don’t seem to know what they’re doing!
  • Over-using an existing / old idea, often because it’s easy and can make quick money.
  • Struggling to find something new
  • Having to use something even if it is not very good, as there is nothing better available.
  • The phrase is mainly used in conversational English – but could also be used by newspaper and magazine writers.
  • It is used to express negative feelings about something that is supposedly new but is, in their opinion, old and uninteresting.
That’s interesting!   
  • To scrape means to rub something against a rough surface, often to remove something from it. For example, scraping the mud off your boots
  • A barrel is a large, curved (usually) wooden container, like those used to store wine.
  • The last bit in the barrel (the dregs) is not the nicest, but if you were desperate for some wine, you would scrape the last bits out.

Was this useful? Why not come and give us an example of this saying on our f or on Twitter (@bell_english)

Written by the Bell Team,
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