1. [syn: dilemma, quandary]
The Collaborative International Dictionary of English v.0.48:
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.
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.
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.
A strong dilemma in a desperate case!
To act with infamy, or quit the place. --Swift.
Horns of a dilemma, alternatives, each of which is equally
difficult of encountering.
WordNet (r) 3.0 (2006):
n 1: state of uncertainty or perplexity especially as requiring
a choice between equally unfavorable options [syn:
Moby Thesaurus II by Grady Ward, 1.0:
79 Moby Thesaurus words for "dilemma":
Aristotelian sorites, Goclenian sorites, Gordian knot,
Scylla and Charybdis, baffle, bafflement, bewilderment, bind,
bother, box, catch-22, categorical syllogism, choice of Hercules,
confoundment, confusion, corner, crux, deadlock, difficulty,
discomposure, disconcert, disconcertedness, disconcertion,
disconcertment, disturbance, embarrassment, enigma, enthymeme,
figure, fix, hole, impasse, jam, knot, knotty point, mode,
modus tollens, mood, mystery, mystification, no choice, node,
nodus, nonplus, only choice, oxymoron, paradox, paralogism,
perplexity, perturbation, pickle, plight, pons asinorum, poser,
pother, predicament, problem, prosyllogism, pseudosyllogism,
puzzle, puzzlement, quandary, riddle, rule, rule of deduction,
scrape, snooker, sorites, spot, squeeze, stalemate, stew, stymie,
syllogism, teaser, trouble, unassuredness, upset, vexed question