Definitions

from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

  • adj. Of, relating to, or being a contrivance that brings about by complicated means what apparently could have been accomplished simply.

from WordNet 3.0 Copyright 2006 by Princeton University. All rights reserved.

  • n. United States cartoonist who drew intricate diagrams of very complicated and impractical contraptions that accomplished little or nothing (1883-1970)

Etymologies

After Reuben Lucius ("Rube”) Goldberg (1883-1970), American cartoonist noted for his intricate diagrams of such contrivances.
(American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition)

Examples

  • Like Fairweather’s Rube Goldberg drawing, the immune system seems booby-trapped with control mechanisms that, when breached, cause the body to go haywire.

    The Autoimmune Epidemic

  • The United Nations Development Programme UNDP calls this Rube Goldberg machine a “multifunctional platform.”

    Diffusion of Innovations

Comments

Log in or sign up to get involved in the conversation. It's quick and easy.