What is the meaning of this sentence?I know every words in the sentence but can't figure out the meaning of it.

Homer, I'm in a rhubarb of a pickle of a jam here. I was all set to go off on vacation when I get called up for jury duty. Oh, it's a corker of a case.

  • Please allow at least a day or two before accepting an answer, even if you get a good one right away (and indeed you got an excellent one right away). For info about why this is helpful, please see “Not so fast! (When should I accept my answer?)”.
    – Ben Kovitz
    Mar 26 '15 at 12:23
  • 3
    Hotdog! I mustard the courage to relish the opportunity to ketchup on the answers to this question.
    – user6951
    Mar 26 '15 at 14:10

This phrase combines a variety of idiom and slang to make a very evocative phrase.

"In a jam" means "In a difficult situation."

"In a pickle" means "In a mess" or "In trouble."

"Rhubarb" means "Nonsense" (British) or "Quarrel" (American).

So put all together we have:

"I'm in a nonsensical, messy, difficult situation."


"I'm in a quarrelsome, messy, difficult situation."

Since the quote appears to be from The Simpsons, I would assume the second one.

  • 2
    Would you say it in your daily life or it was made up especially from words which are related to fruit in order to get it sound funny?
    – Dash
    Mar 26 '15 at 12:18
  • 1
    It is comically "over the top". Compare Woody Allen's It's a travesty of a mockery of a sham of a mockery of a travesty of two mockeries of a sham from the movie Bananas (1971). Mar 26 '15 at 12:28
  • 1
    @Dash It's a funny, creative phrase used in one episode of a television comedy. It exaggerates a folksy style of expression heard in the American Midwest. I have never heard it in daily life. It almost sounds like it belongs in a song.
    – Ben Kovitz
    Mar 26 '15 at 13:18
  • 2
    Americans will commonly say "I'm in jam" to mean "I'm in trouble". "I'm in a pickle" is, I think, mostly obsolete but a similar meaning. I've never heard "rhubarb" used in such a context, I see it in a dictionary, maybe it's mostly obsolete or maybe it's regional. Anyway, few would put all three together in one sentence. Any one would be a normal statement. Combining them is a humorous way of saying the problem is really serious.
    – Jay
    Mar 26 '15 at 13:25
  • "I'm in a pickle" is the British version of "I'm in a jam". It's common in certain parts of Britain, while "I'm in a jam" is uncommon all over Britain. Sep 27 '15 at 14:40

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.