[kwon-duh-ree, -dree]

noun, plural quan·da·ries.

a state of perplexity or uncertainty, especially as to what to do; dilemma.

Origin of quandary

1570–80; perhaps fancifully < Latin quand(ō) when + -āre infinitive suffix

Synonyms for quandary

Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for quandary

Contemporary Examples of quandary

Historical Examples of quandary

  • It was his mate who relieved him from the quandary in which he found himself.

    White Fang

    Jack London

  • The less he teaches and insists on facts and details, the greater his quandary.

    College Teaching

    Paul Klapper

  • As a matter of fact, he told himself, he was in something of a quandary.

    Pagan Passions

    Gordon Randall Garrett

  • Had she said the Pritchards, Elsie would have been in a quandary; as it was, her face brightened.

  • I confessed myself in as black a quandary as ever man experienced.

    John Splendid

    Neil Munro

British Dictionary definitions for quandary


noun plural -ries

a situation or circumstance that presents problems difficult to solve; predicament; dilemma

Word Origin for quandary

C16: of uncertain origin; perhaps related to Latin quandō when
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

Word Origin and History for quandary

"state of perplexity," 1570s, of unknown origin, perhaps a quasi-Latinism based on Latin quando "when? at what time?; at the time that, inasmuch," pronomial adverb of time, related to qui "who" (see who). Originally accented on the second syllable.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper