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Rube Goldberg

having a fantastically complicated, improvised appearance:
a Rube Goldberg arrangement of flasks and test tubes.
deviously complex and impractical:
a Rube Goldberg scheme for reducing taxes.
Also, Goldbergian, Rube Goldbergian.
Origin of Rube Goldberg
1955-60; after Rube (Reuben) Goldberg


[gohld-burg] /ˈgoʊld bɜrg/
Arthur Joseph, 1908–90, U.S. jurist, statesman, and diplomat: associate justice of the U.S. Supreme Court 1962–65; ambassador to the U.N. 1965–68.
Reuben Lucius ("Rube") 1883–1970, U.S. cartoonist, whose work often depicts deviously complex and impractical inventions. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018.
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Examples from the Web for Rube Goldberg
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • You learned the language just by sticking that Rube Goldberg deal on Tim's head?

    Off Course Mack Reynolds (AKA Dallas McCord Reynolds)
  • I would suggest, if we Americans can pitch into this great movement, some gargoyles designed by Mr. Rube Goldberg.

    The Complete Book of Cheese Robert Carlton Brown
Word Origin and History for Rube Goldberg

1940, from the U.S. cartoonist Reuben Lucius Goldberg (1883-1970) who devised fantastically complex gadgetry to accomplish simple tasks. His British counterpart was Heath Robinson (1872-1944).

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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Slang definitions & phrases for Rube Goldberg

Rube Goldberg

noun phrase

A much overcomplicated machine or arrangement: The public's got the idea that this is a boondoggle, a Rube Goldberg

[1940+; fr the fancifully articulated machines drawn by the cartoonist Rube Goldberg (1883–1970); the British artist Heath Robinson (1872–1944) amused his public with similar gadgets]

The Dictionary of American Slang, Fourth Edition by Barbara Ann Kipfer, PhD. and Robert L. Chapman, Ph.D.
Copyright (C) 2007 by HarperCollins Publishers.
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