- a situation requiring a choice between equally undesirable alternatives.
- any difficult or perplexing situation or problem.
- Logic. a form of syllogism in which the major premise is formed of two or more hypothetical propositions and the minor premise is a disjunctive proposition, as “If A, then B; if C then D. Either A or C. Therefore, either B or D.”
Origin of dilemma
SynonymsSee more synonyms on Thesaurus.com
Examples from the Web for dilemma
We saw Tyreese in this episode caught in the middle of the “hunt or be hunted” dilemma.Andrew Lincoln Wants Rick to End With Johnny Cash and the Sunset
October 14, 2014
The dilemma is how to satisfy their separate demands and aspirations for a tiny piece of land.Don’t Accuse Israel of Apartheid
July 17, 2014
There was, she admitted, a dilemma: “How much development needs to take place before you begin to set standards?”Passenger Flights Must Stop Carrying Lithium-Ion Batteries as Cargo
May 5, 2014
Broadcast icon Larry King has a dilemma, and he may not even know it.
Li was discussing the dilemma with an old professor at Balliol College, Oxford.How to Hustle Your Way to the Oscars
February 15, 2014
I hesitated and tried to think of some safe way out of the dilemma.Biography of a Slave
A prudent person, lapsing into a dilemma, is specially discomfitted.Weighed and Wanting
Lady Pierrepoint saw this, and coolly held her in this dilemma.Tales And Novels, Volume 5 (of 10)
Joseph was now reduced to a dilemma which extremely puzzled him.Joseph Andrews Vol. 1
But our Smithsonian systematizer will allow us neither horn of this dilemma.Life: Its True Genesis
R. W. Wright
- a situation necessitating a choice between two equal, esp equally undesirable, alternatives
- a problem that seems incapable of a solution
- logic a form of argument one of whose premises is the conjunction of two conditional statements and the other of which affirms the disjunction of their antecedents, and whose conclusion is the disjunction of their consequents. Its form is if p then q and if r then s; either p or r so either q or s
- on the horns of a dilemma
- faced with the choice between two equally unpalatable alternatives
- in an awkward situation
Word Origin and History for dilemma
1520s, from Late Latin dilemma, from Greek dilemma "double proposition," a technical term in rhetoric, from di- "two" + lemma "premise, anything received or taken," from root of lambanein "to take" (see analemma). It should be used only of situations where someone is forced to choose between two alternatives, both unfavorable to him. But even logicians disagree on whether certain situations are dilemmas or mere syllogisms.
Idioms and Phrases with dilemma
see horns of a dilemma.