Tar Baby Definition

Something that is a persistent encumbrance.
Webster's New World
A inextricable situation or difficult and pressing problem that often grows worse as one tries to deal with it.
American Heritage
Used as a disparaging term for a black person, especially a dark-skinned black child.
American Heritage

Other Word Forms of Tar Baby


tar baby
tar babies

Origin of Tar Baby

  • 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

    From American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language, 5th Edition

  • From the tar baby used as a character in Joel Chandler Harris in his Uncle Remus stories, published 1881.

    From Wiktionary

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tar baby