A phrase meaning to be in trouble. Being in a pickle usualy implies a lighter, less severe form of trouble, as in one which is not hazardous to your health, niether now nor in the immediate future. The origins of this phrase are unknown. It only logically makes sense in that if you consider if you were placed in a vat of pickle juice, or if, say, your finger were somehow stuck into a pickle, it really wouldn't be that much of a problem unless you couldn't swim in the first instance.

Kiss me, Hardy.

These words, while not as well known, echo sentiments of "Rosebud... ". They are a dying man's last words. They are firmly rooted in context and puckishly confusing without. 'Slightly'-famed Admiral Horatio Nelson's whispered death-throes to Captain Thomas Hardy landed his legacy in a pickle. Despite three witnesses to this being part of the Admiral's last words, homophobes claim them to be "Kismet, Hardy"; kismet was recorded as meaning fate only some 25 years after Nelson's passing. More literally, Nelson was in a pickle because his body was preserved in a barrel of brandy.

So now the crux of the matter: pickles.

The Dutch used a form of in a pickle (in de pekel zitten) to mean being in trouble as early as 1561. Presumably it would be no small trouble to find one's self stuck in a vat of briny fluid. It certainly doesn't sound pleasant. Of course, it's not for any love of the Dutch and their fascination with pickles that we use the phrase today. English has its own pickle fetishist.

ALONSO: And Trinculo is reeling ripe: where should they
Find this grand liquor that hath gilded 'em?
How camest thou in this pickle?

I have been in such a pickle since I
saw you last that, I fear me, will never out of
my bones: I shall not fear fly-blowing*.

The Tempest Act V Scene I

See more Phrases Shakespeare Invented...

* This phrase intrigued me because I couldn't for the life of me understand what sounds to me like a joke. After scouring the web I found a digitized print-source that describes fly-blowing as the process by which meat is spoiled. Trinculo is in such a pickle (double-entendre, preserved) that he fears not putrification.

A New Variorum Edition of Shakespeare by William Shakespeare, Horace Howard Furness

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