tar baby

(redirected from Tarbaby)

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.]
American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fifth Edition. Copyright © 2016 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.

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]
Collins English Dictionary – Complete and Unabridged, 12th Edition 2014 © HarperCollins Publishers 1991, 1994, 1998, 2000, 2003, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2011, 2014

tar′ ba`by


n.
an inextricable problem or situation.
[after the tar doll in an Uncle Remus story (1881) of J. C. Harris]
Random House Kernerman Webster's College Dictionary, © 2010 K Dictionaries Ltd. Copyright 2005, 1997, 1991 by Random House, Inc. All rights reserved.
References in periodicals archive ?
The dream about the drowning woman and baby the protagonist is unable to rescue is taken from the unpublished Tarbaby and is perhaps the echo of personal phantasma similar to those depicted in Black Boy.
'The blind got his sight the lame got his legs', 'Silent skull', 'The unwashed monkey', 'Lost object claimed back', 'Babylonian tower', 'Death and the chameleon', 'The tarbaby', 'Make believe killing of kinsfolk', 'Make believe killing of mother', 'Trickster-hEdgeshog', 'The prohibited fruit (origin of death)', 'Misunderstood instructions: a sharp object', 'The dead shake the earth'.
Stories such as the Tarbaby were transported to Asia with African emigrants.
has published 600 Pounds of Potatoes: The Tarbaby Chronicles by Pat Jarvis.
The United States through Mobutu funnelled several million dollars to the FNLA army until 1969 when, because of the African policy developed by Kissinger and Nixon in the "Tarbaby" Memo, (14) the aid was reduced to a $10,000 retainer for Roberto.
Cameron Shiells, Tarbaby, Etal, 61.6; Class 1b -Rider unled -Test Ea Walk only.
"As Jack Levy sees it," Updike writes, "America is paved solid with fat and tar, a coast-to-coast tarbaby where we're all stuck."
Learning of Verna's pregnancy, Roger scathingly queries, "What do you want with another little tarbaby ...?" Revealing his lack of reverence for the sanctity of human life, he attempts to convince her to have an abortion by means of a grotesque comparison: "If you've ever eaten sardines you should be willing to have this abortion" (184).
1468, 1468 (1985) ("The fourth amendment is the Supreme Court's tarbaby: a mass of contradictions and obscurities that has ensnared the 'Brethren' in such a way that every effort to extract themselves only finds them more profoundly stuck."); Anthony G.
Today, we'll stick to black performance, a tarbaby if ever there was one.
Resisting the pull of the health insurance tarbaby: An organizational model for surviving managed care.
What would have become of the humpty-dumpty confederacy in old Alexandria, when they wanted question marks, wanted good news about Tarbaby and rumors of Stagger Lee?