tar baby

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tar baby

n.
1. A inextricable situation or difficult and pressing problem that often grows worse as one tries to deal with it.
2. Offensive Slang Used as a disparaging term for a black person, especially a dark-skinned black child.

[After "Brer Rabbit and the Tar Baby," an Uncle Remus story by Joel Chandler Harris in which Brer Fox makes a doll out of tar and Brer Rabbit gets stuck in it when he punches it after it does not return his greeting.]

tar baby

n
a troublesome situation that is made worse by attempts to extricate oneself from it
[C20: after the tar-covered doll in a story (1881) by Joel Chandler Harris]

tar′ ba`by


n.
an inextricable problem or situation.
[after the tar doll in an Uncle Remus story (1881) of J. C. Harris]
References in periodicals archive ?
on hand--our mud babies, our tar babies, our baby soldiers, our
making tar babies on hot days, ollies and steelies, stalies, step whitening stones, reckitt's blue bags, dolly pegs and possers, dolly tubs - now a garden fashion statement - black-leading the kitchen range, coal cellars and our pre-war Austin Sixteen motor car with running boards had a pneumatic window wiper which we had electrified.