Pickle

A rod in pickle. One ready to chastise with at any moment. Pickled means preserved for use. (Danish, pekel.)

I'm in a pretty pickle.
In a sorry plight, or state of disorder.

“How camst thou in this pickle?”

Shakespeare: Tempest, v. 1.

Source: Dictionary of Phrase and Fable, E. Cobham Brewer, 1894
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