Definitions

from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

  • n. A situation that requires a choice between options that are or seem equally unfavorable or mutually exclusive.
  • n. Usage Problem A problem that seems to defy a satisfactory solution.
  • n. Logic An argument that presents two alternatives, each of which has the same consequence.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • n. A circumstance in which a choice must be made between two or more alternatives that seem equally undesirable.
  • n. this sense) (disputed) A difficult circumstance or problem.
  • n. A type of syllogism of the form "if A is true then B is true; if C is true then D is true; either A or C is true; therefore either B or D is true".
  • n. Offering to an opponent a choice between two (equally unfavorable) alternatives.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • n. An argument which presents an antagonist with two or more alternatives, but is equally conclusive against him, whichever alternative he chooses.
  • n. 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.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • n. A form of argument in which it is shown that whoever maintains a certain proposition must accept one or other of two alternative conclusions, and that each of these involves the denial of the proposition in question.
  • n. A difficult or doubtful choice; a state of things in which the alternatives appear to be equally bad or undesirable.

from WordNet 3.0 Copyright 2006 by Princeton University. All rights reserved.

  • n. state of uncertainty or perplexity especially as requiring a choice between equally unfavorable options

Etymologies

Late Latin, from Greek dilēmma, ambiguous proposition : di-, two; see di-1 + lēmma, proposition; see lemma1.
(American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition)
First attested 1523, from Late Latin dilemma, from Ancient Greek δίλημμα (dilēmma, "double proposition"), from δι- (di-) + λῆμμα (lēmma, "premise, proposition"). (Wiktionary)

Examples

Comments

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  • this is a word with horns...

    December 16, 2007