behind the eight ball

eightball

[eyt-bawl]
noun
1.
Pool.
a.
a black ball bearing the number eight.
b.
a game in which one player or side must pocket all of either the solid-color balls or the striped ones before being permitted to attempt the pocketing of the eightball, which wins.
2.
Slang. an inept person.
Idioms
3.
behind the eightball, Informal. in a difficult, disadvantageous, or uncomfortable situation: He hasn't studied all term, and now he's behind the eightball.

Origin:
1930–35, Americanism; eight + ball1

Dictionary.com Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2014.
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American Heritage
Cultural Dictionary

behind the eight ball definition


A term, referring to the game of pool, meaning in an unfavorable or uncomfortable position: “After his unkind remarks were repeated to the boss, Gary really ended up behind the eight ball.”

The American Heritage® New Dictionary of Cultural Literacy, Third Edition
Copyright © 2005 by Houghton Mifflin Company.
Published by Houghton Mifflin Company. All rights reserved.
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Slang Dictionary

behind the eight ball definition


  1. mod.
    in trouble; in a weak or losing position. : I'm behind the eight ball again.
  2. mod.
    broke. : I was behind the eight ball again and couldn't make my car payment.
Dictionary of American Slang and Colloquial Expressions by Richard A. Spears.Fourth Edition.
Copyright 2007. Published by McGraw-Hill Education.
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American Heritage
Idioms & Phrases

behind the eight ball

In trouble or an awkward position, out of luck, as in His check bounced, leaving Jim behind the eight ball with his landlord. The term comes from pocket billiards or pool, where in certain games if the number eight ball is between the "cue ball" and "object ball" the player cannot make a straight shot. [Colloquial; c. 1920]

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