Tar-Baby


Tar-Baby

▪ African-American folktale
 sticky tar doll, the central figure in black American folktales popularized in written literature by the American author Joel Chandler Harris (Harris, Joel Chandler). Harris' “Tar-Baby” (1879), one of the animal tales told by the character Uncle Remus, is but one example of numerous African-derived tales featuring the use of a wax, gum, or rubber figure to trap a rascal.

      In Harris' version, the doll is made by Brer Fox and placed in the roadside to even a score with his archenemy Brer Rabbit. Brer Rabbit speaks to the Tar-Baby, gets angry when it does not answer him, strikes it, and gets stuck. The more he strikes and kicks the figure, the more hopelessly he becomes attached.

      The sticky-figure motif is also common in American Indian tales.

* * *


Universalium. 2010.

Look at other dictionaries:

  • Tar baby — was a doll made of tar and turpentine, used to entrap Br er Rabbit in the second of the Uncle Remus stories. The more that Br er Rabbit fought the Tar Baby, the more entangled he became. In contemporary usage, tar baby refers to any sticky… …   Wikipedia

  • tar baby — A tar baby is a problem that gets worse when people try to sort it out …   The small dictionary of idiomes

  • tar baby — ☆ tar baby n. [after a small, sticky tar figure in a story by Joel Chandler Harris] something that is a persistent encumbrance …   English World dictionary

  • tar baby — ˈ ̷ ̷ ˌ ̷ ̷  ̷ ̷ noun Etymology: from Tar Baby, doll made of tar in which Brer Rabbit becomes entangled in a story by Joel Chandler Harris died 1908 American writer : something from which it is nearly impossible to extricate oneself the issue… …   Useful english dictionary

  • tar baby — noun Etymology: from the tar baby that trapped Brer Rabbit in an Uncle Remus story by Joel Chandler Harris Date: circa 1910 something from which it is nearly impossible to extricate oneself …   New Collegiate Dictionary

  • Tar\ Baby — Noun A person that behaves exactly like oneself, a kindrid spirit. Someone you know you can love forever and ever. A person who makes life seem like it s so easy. Ryan is my tar baby. He s so much like me …   Dictionary of american slang

  • Tar\ Baby — Noun A person that behaves exactly like oneself, a kindrid spirit. Someone you know you can love forever and ever. A person who makes life seem like it s so easy. Ryan is my tar baby. He s so much like me …   Dictionary of american slang

  • tar baby —    This term refers to a sticky situation or problem for which it is virtually impossible to find a solution.     He was advised not to get involved in the controversy which was considered a tar baby issue …   English Idioms & idiomatic expressions

  • tar baby — tar′ ba by n. cvb an inextricable problem or situation • Etymology: after the tar doll in an Uncle Remus story (1881) of J. C. Harris …   From formal English to slang

  • tar baby — a situation, problem, or the like, that is almost impossible to solve or to break away from. Also, tarbaby. [after the tar doll used to trap Brer Rabbit in an Uncle Remus story (1881) of Joel Chandler Harris] * * * …   Universalium


Share the article and excerpts

Direct link
Do a right-click on the link above
and select “Copy Link”

We are using cookies for the best presentation of our site. Continuing to use this site, you agree with this.