Meaning the Idiom

Behind the Eight Ball: to be in a daunting or aer situation; to be in ~ a disadvantage; come be the end of luck, in a losing position; to it is in baffled as to what to execute or how to proceed. 1Ammer, Christine. American Heritage dictionary of Boston: house Mifflin Harcourt, 2013. 2Heacock, Paul. Cambridge thesaurus of American Cambridge: Cambridge UP, 2010. 3 Ayto, John. Oxford dictionary of English Oxford: Oxford U, 2010.

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Examples of Use

“The detective was behind the eight ball and had a many work to carry out to deal with the case.”

“We’re yes, really behind the eight round on this latest home flip. Us just discovered cracks in the foundation and lots of mold to remediate.”



The idiom ‘behind the eight ball’ is borrowed from a video game in billiards or pool called Eight Ball. In this game, the balls, which space numbered one through eight fifteen, must be hit right into a bag in numerical order, prior to the eight ball, which need to be pocketed last. One player theatre balls one through seven, the solid fancy balls, and also the other plays balls nine v fifteen, the stripe balls. Although the rule of the game are an ext complicated, the idiom refers to a instance in i beg your pardon a player is trying to make a shooting in i m sorry the sphere they space trying to bag is positioned behind the eight ball, making it a very daunting shot come make.

According to writer Josh Chetwynd in The ar Guide to sports Metaphors, Charles E. Peterson, who was the president of the Billiard combination of America in ~ the time, asserted that the expression did not actually come indigenous the video game of Eight ball at all. He stated that it was coined by a fellow named Allie Flint at some suggest between 1914 and also 1916, throughout a betting video game in i m sorry wagerers pulled little numbered balls indigenous a bag. Whoever attracted the smallest number won. In a video game with ten or more players, anything end eight had very little chance the winning. Allie Flint, claimed Peterson, was really unlucky in the game and would draw the nine more than anyone else.

Flint, at some point, after losing again and also again, stated “There i am behind the eight ball again.” Peterson stated this expression climate spread like wildfire every over brand-new York, and from there throughout the conuntry.

In truth, the expression did not really spread out until after ~ the video game of Eight sphere become really popular, during the 1930’s. Together well, the does have actually a particular meaning in the game. 4Chetwynd, Josh. The field Guide to sporting activities Metaphors: A Compendium of compete Words and and Berkeley: Ten Speed, 2016.

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There room many typical expressions that are claimed to have been source by one human being at one details occasion. Oddly enough, this stories regularly occur in bars, just as the story Peterson told. Lock are impossible to validate and also are typically myths cooked increase after the fact. Peterson, again according to Chetwynd, did not recount his story till 1941 in an interview because that a column. If he had actually told it, perhaps, throughout the 1920’s, roughly the time the idiom first came into use, we might lend it more credence. Since a person would no bother to claim an beginning story because that an expression the was not widespread, such insurance claims are constantly behind the eight ball.