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Behind the eight ball


a black ball bearing the number eight.
a game in which one player or side must pocket all of either the solid-color balls or the striped ones before being permitted to attempt the pocketing of the eightball, which wins.

Slang. an inept person.
behind the eightball, Informal. in a difficult, disadvantageous, or uncomfortable situation:
He hasn’t studied all term, and now he’s behind the eightball.

A black person (1919+)
A chronically unfortunate and ineffective person; loser, sad sack (1940s+)
square (1950s+ Jive talk)

In trouble or an awkward position, out of luck, as in His check bounced, leaving Jim behind the eight ball with his landlord. The term comes from pocket billiards or pool, where in certain games if the number eight ball is between the “cue ball” and “object ball” the player cannot make a straight shot. [ ; c. 1920 ]


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