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.”

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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.