Horns of a dilemma
Dilemma Di*lem"ma, n. [L. dilemma, Gr. ?; di- = di`s- twice + ? to take. See {Lemma}.] 1. (Logic) An argument which presents an antagonist with two or more alternatives, but is equally conclusive against him, whichever alternative he chooses. [1913 Webster]

Note: The following are instances of the dilemma. A young rhetorician applied to an old sophist to be taught the art of pleading, and bargained for a certain reward to be paid when he should gain a cause. The master sued for his reward, and the scholar endeavored to elude his claim by a dilemma. ``If I gain my cause, I shall withhold your pay, because the judge's award will be against you; if I lose it, I may withhold it, because I shall not yet have gained a cause.'' ``On the contrary,'' says the master, ``if you gain your cause, you must pay me, because you are to pay me when you gain a cause; if you lose it, you must pay me, because the judge will award it.'' --Johnson. [1913 Webster]

2. A state of things in which evils or obstacles present themselves on every side, and it is difficult to determine what course to pursue; a vexatious alternative or predicament; a difficult choice or position. [1913 Webster]

A strong dilemma in a desperate case! To act with infamy, or quit the place. --Swift. [1913 Webster]

{Horns of a dilemma}, alternatives, each of which is equally difficult of encountering. [1913 Webster]


The Collaborative International Dictionary of English. 2000.

Look at other dictionaries:

  • horns of a dilemma — If you are on the horns of a dilemma, you are faced with two equally unpleasant options and have to choose one …   The small dictionary of idiomes

  • horns of a dilemma — see under ↑dilemma • • • Main Entry: ↑horn …   Useful english dictionary

  • horns of a dilemma — {n. phr.} Two choices possible in a situation in which neither is wanted. Usually used after on . * /Joe found himself on the horns of a dilemma; if he went to work, he d miss seeing Mary; if he stayed out, he d he too broke to take her… …   Dictionary of American idioms

  • horns of a dilemma — {n. phr.} Two choices possible in a situation in which neither is wanted. Usually used after on . * /Joe found himself on the horns of a dilemma; if he went to work, he d miss seeing Mary; if he stayed out, he d he too broke to take her… …   Dictionary of American idioms

  • horns\ of\ a\ dilemma — n. phr. two choices possible in a situation in which neither is wanted. Usually used after on . Joe found himself on the horns of a dilemma; if he went to work, he d miss seeing Mary; if he stayed out, he d be too broke to take her anywhere …   Словарь американских идиом

  • horns of a dilemma —    If you are on the horns of a dilemma, you are faced with two equally unpleasant options and have to choose one.   (Dorking School Dictionary) …   English Idioms & idiomatic expressions

  • Horns of a dilemma —   If you are on the horns of a dilemma, you are faced with two equally unpleasant options and have to choose one …   Dictionary of English idioms

  • on the horns of a dilemma — BETWEEN THE DEVIL AND THE DEEP BLUE SEA, between Scylla and Charybdis; informal between a rock and a hard place. → dilemma * * * on the horns of a dilemma In a dilemma (see comments above) • • • Main Entry: ↑dilemma * * * on the horns of a… …   Useful english dictionary

  • be on the horns of a dilemma — to be unable to decide which of two things to do because either could have bad results. How can we decide which hospital to close? We are on the horns of a dilemma …   New idioms dictionary

  • on the horns of a dilemma — ► on the horns of a dilemma faced with a decision involving equally unfavourable alternatives. Main Entry: ↑horn …   English terms dictionary

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