What does dilemma mean?

Definitions for dilemma
dɪˈlɛm ədilem·ma

This dictionary definitions page includes all the possible meanings, example usage and translations of the word dilemma.

Princeton's WordNet

  1. dilemma, quandarynoun

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


  1. dilemmanoun

    A circumstance in which a choice must be made between two or more alternatives that seem equally undesirable.

  2. dilemmanoun

    (disputed) A difficult circumstance or problem.

  3. dilemmanoun

    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".

  4. dilemmanoun

    Offering to an opponent a choice between two (equally unfavorable) alternatives.

Samuel Johnson's Dictionary

  1. Dilemmanoun

    Etymology: διλημμα.

    A dilemma, that bishop Morton the chancellor used, to raise benevolence, some called his fork, and some his crutch. Francis Bacon, Henry VII.

    Hope, whose weak being ruin’d is
    Alike if it succeed, and if it miss;
    Whom good or ill does equally confound,
    And both the horns of fate’s dilemma wound. Abraham Cowley.

    A strong dilemma in a desp’rate case!
    To act with infamy, or quit the place. Jonathan Swift.

    A dire dilemma; either way I’m sped;
    If foes, they write, if friends, they read me dead. Alexander Pope.


  1. Dilemma

    A dilemma (Greek: δίλημμα "double proposition") is a problem offering two possibilities, neither of which is unambiguously acceptable or preferable. The possibilities are termed the horns of the dilemma, a clichéd usage, but distinguishing the dilemma from other kinds of predicament as a matter of usage.


  1. dilemma

    A dilemma is a situation in which a difficult choice has to be made between two or more alternatives, especially when either choice could have unfavorable outcomes.

Webster Dictionary

  1. Dilemmanoun

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

  2. Dilemmanoun

    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

  3. Etymology: [L. dilemma, Gr. ; di- = di`s- twice + to take. See Lemma.]


  1. Dilemma

    A dilemma is a problem offering two possibilities, neither of which is practically acceptable. One in this position has been traditionally described as "being on the horns of a dilemma", neither horn being comfortable. This is sometimes more colorfully described as "Finding oneself impaled upon the horns of a dilemma", referring to the sharp points of a bull's horns, equally uncomfortable. The dilemma is sometimes used as a rhetorical device, in the form "you must accept either A, or B"; here A and B would be propositions each leading to some further conclusion. Applied incorrectly, it constitutes a false dichotomy, a fallacy.

Chambers 20th Century Dictionary

  1. Dilemma

    di-lem′a, n. a form of argument in which the maintainer of a certain proposition is committed to accept one of two alternative propositions each of which contradicts his original contention: a position where each of two alternative courses (or of all the feasible courses) is eminently undesirable: a trying practical difficulty. The argument was called a 'horned syllogism,' and the victim compared to a man certain to be impaled on one or other of the horns of an infuriated bull, hence the Horns of a dilemma: the usual phrase Landed in a dilemma is, or suggests, a mixed metaphor.—adj. Dilemmat′ic. [L.,—Gr. dilēmmadi-, twice, double, lēmma, an assumption—lambanein, to take.]

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British National Corpus

  1. Nouns Frequency

    Rank popularity for the word 'dilemma' in Nouns Frequency: #2434

How to pronounce dilemma?

How to say dilemma in sign language?


  1. Chaldean Numerology

    The numerical value of dilemma in Chaldean Numerology is: 4

  2. Pythagorean Numerology

    The numerical value of dilemma in Pythagorean Numerology is: 3

Examples of dilemma in a Sentence

  1. Dick Durbin:

    This is a dilemma. It's a classic dilemma. We want to provide the equipment that Ukraine needs to survive. We don't want to push Russian President Vladimir Putin into World War III or a nuclear confrontation, it is only the President who can make this decision, and he has urged caution. I can make arguments of one side or the other.

  2. Donald Trump:

    If you're weak, which some people would like you to be, if you're really, really, pathetically weak, the country's going to be overrun with millions of people, and if you're strong, then you don't have any heart. That's a tough dilemma. Perhaps I'd rather be strong, but that's a tough dilemma.

  3. Marlene Dietrich:

    A king, realizing his incompetence, can either delegate or abdicate his duties. A father can do neither. If only sons could see the paradox, they would understand the dilemma.

  4. Melvin Maddocks:

    A man's work is his dilemma his job is his bondage, but it also gives him a fair share of his identity and keeps him from being a bystander in somebody else's world.

  5. George Santayana:

    Culture is on the horns of this dilemma if profound and noble it must remain rare, if common it must become mean.

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Translations for dilemma

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"dilemma." Definitions.net. STANDS4 LLC, 2023. Web. 11 Dec. 2023. <https://www.definitions.net/definition/dilemma>.

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