Definition: in trouble, in a difficult situation, or mixed up
Sue: I might lose my home.
Marvin: Why? What happened?
Sue: Well, last year I got laid off and I haven’t been able to find another job. I haven’t been able to paythe mortgage on the house so the bank is threatening to take over.
Marvin: Wow! I’m so sorry. You really are in a pickle.
Larry: I’m in a pickle.
Mary: Why? What happened?
Larry: The police caught me for drunk driving and took my driver’s license away. Now I can’t drive and I cannot get to work without a car.
Mary: Oh dear! You are in a pickle!
Meaning: ‘To be in a pickle’ refers to a person being in a difficult situation. This situation is challenging to get out of, like a pickle in a pickle jar. The term can also mean that a person is drunk and mixed up.
Origin: A pickle is a preserved vegetable. Usually the vegetable is put in a jar with vinegar, salt, herbs and spices. In Dutch this preservative mixture is called “pekel.” So, the person is like a pickle in a jar, being mixed up with other ingredients.