In computer science Turing Tarpits are programming language that can theoretically compute anything but it is extremely cumbersome to do so.

In Networking a Tarpit slows down incoming connections to fend off malicious programs such as worms.

Can this be generalized?
I assume people would understand me if I said "This process will be like going through a tar pit" to describe that it will take long and will not be easy, but is it understandable or even common to just call such a process a tar pit?

  • 1
    What "tarpit" calls to my mind is the La Bread Tarpits where animals sank to their death. Personally I wouldn't use the term to describe a slow process. – Al Maki Aug 25 '16 at 16:53
  • @AlMaki Agree. I think of a tar pit as being inescapable, not a source of resistance or a circumstance that merely slows things down. – Richard Kayser Aug 25 '16 at 17:11
  • In that case the two examples wouldn't be accuratelt names either though. I suppose Turing Morass doesn't have quite the same ring to it... – Robin Gertenbach Aug 26 '16 at 8:42

Some people would get it. I don't think it's the best choice of metaphor though.

A better way, sticking with landscape features, to describe something that's going to be really slow and difficult would be "a morass".


1 :  marsh, swamp
2a :  a situation that traps, confuses, or impedes <a legal morass>
2b :  an overwhelming or confusing mass or mixture

There's also "wading through treacle", which may be a Britishism, and in fact is the correctly-marked answer to this similar question:

idiom for proceeding slowly and with difficulty

  • Thanks. I think a {legal|bureaucratic|..} morass is a good metaphor for what I was looking for. I really like wading through treacle although I don't think many non native speakers will understand it. – Robin Gertenbach Aug 26 '16 at 8:52

If you're looking for a verb, slog would work:

Slog: a long period of hard work or effort: a long, difficult walk. Source: Merriam-Webster

The program slogged through the process.

Another noun commonly used for something that's tough to go through would be sludge.

Sludge: a soft, thick material that is produced in various industrial processes (such as in the treatment of sewage)Source: Merriam-Webster

The process will be like going through sludge.

  • Thanks a lot. Slog is probably the best everyday word to describe this. I'll be accepting Max' answer though as he goes into whether people would understand it and stays within the theme of metaphors. – Robin Gertenbach Aug 26 '16 at 8:55

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