[ trahy-lem-uh ]
/ traɪˈlɛm ə /


a situation, analogous to a dilemma, in which there are three almost equally undesirable alternatives: His trilemma consisted in not knowing whether to acknowledge receipt, deny it, or simply leave.
Logic. a form of argument in which three choices are presented, each of which is indicated to have consequences that may be unfavorable.

Origin of trilemma

First recorded in 1665–75; tri- + (di)lemma Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2020

Examples from the Web for trilemma

British Dictionary definitions for trilemma

/ (traɪˈlɛmə) /


a quandary posed by three alternative courses of action
an argument one of the premises of which is the disjunction of three statements from each of which the same conclusion is derived

Word Origin for trilemma

C17: formed on the model of dilemma, from tri- + Greek lēmma assumption
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