in a jam

in(to) a jam

Fig. in(to) a difficult situation. Mary cannot keep track of the many times Dave got himself into a jam. I found myself in a jam when my car overheated on the highway.
See also: jam

in a jam

mod. in a difficult situation. I think I’m sort of in a jam.
See also: jam

in a pinch

When hard-pressed. The British version of this expression, “at a pinch,” dates from the fifteenth century, when William Caxton in his translation of The Book of Faytes of Armes and of Chyualrye (1489) wrote, “Corageously at a pynche [he] shal renne vpon hem.” By the time Robert Louis Stevenson wrote Black Arrow (1888) it also was put as, “It yet might serve him, in a pinch.” A related expression of more recent provenance is in a jam, which similarly implies that one is “compressed” or “squeezed,” by circumstance, into a tight spot.
See also: pinch