A “barrel roll” is originally an aerial maneuver in which an airplane rotates around both its longitudinal and its lateral axis, the complete motion forming the shape of a helix.
However, do a barrel roll has become a popular internet phrase which may be used as reaction in two different scenarios.
- If you see a video, gif or image of someone or something doing a 360 degree turn/spin/rotation (or attempting to do so), you may encourage the action by saying “do a barrel roll!”.
- If someone asks you for advice regarding some serious life issues, you tell them “do a barrel roll”, because it’s not going to help them whatsoever, and you just don’t care.
Option number 2 also works when being asked stupid questions.
The phrase stems from Star Fox 64, a 1997 video game in which character “Peppy Hare” demands that you perform a “barrel roll” so that you avoid enemy lasers.
It was later discovered that the Star Fox 64 maneuver is, in fact, not a barrel roll at all, but the internet meme persisted nevertheless.
The demanding phrase was first defined on Urban Dictionary in 2004, then started its Internet catchphrase journey on 4chan around 2007.
A silly Google easter egg shows itself if you type “do a barrel roll” into the Google search bar and press enter.
If you would rather have it explained, after you press enter the whole browser does a “barrel roll”.
You will also be shown www.elgoog.im in the results, which is a link to Google Mirror, the Google browser, but mirrored (elgoog mirrored is google), which represents the lateral turn of the original aerial maneuver.
The phrase also gained an increase in popularity during prank calls received by Tom Green in The Midnight Caller Show, asking him to “do a barrel roll”.