behind the eightball

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

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Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2014.
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