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.”
- dil·em·mat·ic [dil-uh-mat-ik], /ˌdɪl əˈmæt ɪk/, dil·em·mat·i·cal, di·lem·mic, adjective
- dil·em·mat·i·cal·ly, adverb
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2023
How to use dilemma in a sentence
Therein lies the seemingly intractable dilemma of humanity’s intimate relationship with this tropical tree.The Environmental Headache in Your Shampoo - Issue 90: Something Green | Anastasia Bendebury & Michael Shilo DeLay | September 16, 2020 | Nautilus
Stuck in this dilemma of the party’s own making, silence can be as good as it gets.
I can tell you firsthand, it is a pleasure to participate in discussions with students so attuned to the complex ethical dilemmas their employers face.CEOs should stop worrying and learn to love employee activism | Alison Taylor | September 9, 2020 | Quartz
I’m curious how you would describe what you see to be his dilemma.Will a Covid-19 Vaccine Change the Future of Medical Research? (Ep. 430) | Stephen J. Dubner | August 27, 2020 | Freakonomics
What if the dilemma stems from them forming trust based on “gut feeling” in the meetings, but lacking enough knowledge to judge whether the projected results will, in the end, be achieved.How to craft a winning SEO proposal and avoid getting a silent ‘No’ | Sponsored Content: SEOmonitor | August 3, 2020 | Search Engine Land
Herein lies the great dilemma then for the advocates of amnesty.Legal but Still Poor: The Economic Consequences of Amnesty | Joel Kotkin | November 21, 2014 | THE DAILY BEAST
These patients, often thought of as brain dead, present a distinct ethical dilemma.
Is behind-the-scenes duplicity, cloaked in coming-of-age business dilemma, the new norm for major-label moves?Taylor Swift Dumps Spotify, Igniting Turf War Between Spotify and Apple | Dale Eisinger | November 4, 2014 | THE DAILY BEAST
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 | Melissa Leon | October 14, 2014 | THE DAILY BEAST
This is the core dilemma for conservatives on same-sex marriage: The more widespread its practice, the more accepted it becomes.
The porter of the firm mercifully interposed to rescue Mr Brammel from his dilemma.
As to the new scheme respecting the Netherlands, he shrewdly propounded a dilemma which silenced Pomponne and Torcy.The History of England from the Accession of James II. | Thomas Babington Macaulay
I am placed between the horns of a dilemma: one lady clamours for the bare truth: another forbids me to say anything unpleasing.The Daughters of Danaus | Mona Caird
Monsieur de Fontanges soon made his appearance, when the lady explained to him their dilemma, and requested his assistance.Newton Forster | Captain Frederick Marryat
The sphinx, which men have imagined concealing herself in the cloud, seemed to mock him with a dilemma.Toilers of the Sea | Victor Hugo
British Dictionary definitions for dilemma
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
- dilemmatic (ˌdɪlɪˈmætɪk, ˌdaɪlɪ-) or dilemmic, adjective
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
Other Idioms and Phrases with dilemma
see horns of a dilemma.
The American Heritage® Idioms Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company.