behind the eight ball
Meaning: If you’re behind the eight ball, you’re in a difficult or dangerous position.
- The economic recession has really put our new business behind the eight ball. Nobody’s spending money.
- Carlo is behind the eight ball now because his final exam is in two days and he still hasn’t started studying for it.
Origin: From a version of pool in which the balls are numbered and must be potted in order. A player loses if he hits the black eight ball in first, so if the cue ball is “behind the eight ball” he’s in a dangerous position.
Variety: This idiom is typically used in American English but may be used in other varieties of English too.