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eightball

[eyt-bawl]
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noun
  1. Pool.
    1. a black ball bearing the number eight.
    2. 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
  1. 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 of eightball

An Americanism dating back to 1930–35; eight + ball1
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018
behind the eight ball in Culture

behind the eight ball

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 New Dictionary of Cultural Literacy, Third Edition Copyright © 2005 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.

Idioms and Phrases with behind the eight ball

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® Idioms Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company.