Share this entry

Share this page

tar baby

Line breaks: tar baby

Definition of tar baby in English:

noun

informal
A difficult problem which is only aggravated by attempts to solve it: disposal of nuclear waste was a problem whose solution was endlessly delayed, a tar baby no one wanted anything to do with
More example sentences
  • What makes their revolution even more unlikely is that they have collectively picked up the two ‘tar babies’ of American swimming - club support/development and governance.
  • I don't know how we would have let go of that tar baby once we had grabbed hold of it.
  • Yes, this is the enigmatic legacy of the 1960s, that tar baby of American cultural politics.

Origin

with allusion to the doll smeared with tar as a trap for Brer Rabbit, in J. C. Harris's Uncle Remus.

Definition of tar baby in:

Share this entry

Share this page

 

What do you find interesting about this word or phrase?

Comments that don't adhere to our Community Guidelines may be moderated or removed.

Get more from Oxford Dictionaries

Subscribe to remove adverts and access premium resources

Word of the day terpsichorean
Pronunciation: ˌtəːpsɪkəˈriːən
adjective
relating to dancing