In the story of :w:OdysseusOdysseus, a ship captain faced a dilemma when he was forced to choose between confronting one of two dangerous sea monsters, Scylla or Charybdis, leading to the phrase between Scylla and Charybdis.



  • A circumstance in which a choice must be made between two or more alternatives that seem equally undesirable.
  • A difficult circumstance or problem.
  • 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".
  • Offering to an opponent a choice between two (equally unfavorable) alternatives.


  • First attested 1523, from Late Latin dilemma, from Ancient Greek δίλημμα ("ambiguous proposition"), from δι- + λῆμμα.

Modern English dictionary

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