Definition of Rube Goldberg in English:

Rube Goldberg

adjective

North American
  • Ingeniously or unnecessarily complicated in design or construction.

    ‘a Rube Goldberg machine’
    • ‘With fascination R. watched me rig up this Rube Goldberg device and mount the switch outside the back door.’
    • ‘These macroscopic movements of the tympanum are transmitted through the columella and extracolumella in most sensible tetrapods, or through a Rube Goldberg machine of three weirdly shaped bones in mammals.’
    • ‘The story structure of the film is like the cinematic equivalent of a Rube Goldberg machine - a twisting, winding string of coincidences piled one upon another, all leading to a very simple event - a woman meeting a man.’
    • ‘Even more impressive is the fact that Kelly has managed to marshal this Rube Goldberg menagerie into a smart, funny lampoon of gung-ho militarism.’
    • ‘Harnessing the energy of some Rube Goldberg perpetual-motion machine, prancing on those fine filly legs like the winner of the strumpet's marathon, Bette uses her body as an inexhaustible source of sight gags.’
    • ‘So while most conventional dairies resemble a Rube Goldberg concoction of pulleys, levers and treated feed where the animals serve as little more than milk spouts, this company has opted for a more humane and, he believes, healthier approach.’
    • ‘I think the polling methodology is a Rube Goldberg contraption that seems conveniently to favor Democratic candidates on a fairly regular basis.’
    • ‘Spoons, safety pins, little magnifying glasses, plants, and endless bits of junk rise into the air like a Rube Goldberg contraption without the plot.’
    • ‘But from a purely pedestrian viewpoint, this seems like a Rube Goldberg response to the simplest of ideas.’
    • ‘In emulation of him, they have turned the wagon into a Rube Goldberg plane that takes off, despite King's efforts to stop it.’
    • ‘She's not a Rube Goldberg machine, but a perpetual-motion one.’
    • ‘Inside his head, there once was a Rube Goldberg contraption designed to help him play golf.’
    • ‘I think of a routine in which the cast was in the kitchen, getting ready for a party, and moved food items from one side to another with the goofy precision of a Rube Goldberg device.’
    • ‘The old, trusted model for traditional media buying is something of a Rube Goldberg machine, he says, functioning because agencies have large, low-paid back office staffs processing insertion orders.’
    • ‘The thing was then, and is now, a Rube Goldberg contraption of breathtaking audacity.’
    • ‘Rather than going about things in a straightforward manner, she devises stratagems, the complexities of which are analogous to the workings of a Rube Goldberg project.’

Origin

1950s: from the name of US cartoonist Goldberg, Rube.