A inextricable situation or difficult and pressing problem that often grows worse as one tries to deal with it.
(offensive slang) Used as a disparaging term for a black person, especially a dark-skinned black child.
(chiefly US) A difficult, abstract problem that worsens as one attempts to handle it.
Something that is a persistent encumbrance.
Other Word Forms
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.