1. a situation requiring a choice between equally undesirable alternatives.
2. a situation that requires a choice between options that are or seem equally unfavorable or mutually exclusive.
Word Origin & History
1523, from L.L. dilemma, from Gk. dilemma “double proposition,” a technical term in rhetoric, from di- “two” + lemma “premise, anything taken,” from base *lab-. It should be used only of situations where someone is forced to choose between two alternatives, both unfavorable to him.
As I left work today, I absentmindedly put my cell phone in my lap. (A bad habit I know.)
On the way home, I stopped at the post office. When I got out of my car, forgetting that I had a cell phone in my lap, I managed to drop the cell phone in the parking lot. Just under another car.
To clarify, just under another car whose owner had just started the engine.
I think you can see where this is going.
I had about a split second to size up the situation and discover I had three options:
- Bang on her window like a crazy person.
- Reach under and get my cell phone.
- Do nothing.
I tried waving at her to get her attention, but she was preoccupied looking behind her to make sure no cars were coming so she could back out of her space.
It was then that I realized I had a true dilemma.
It was my phone. Or my hand (head?)
And then I watched her run over my cell phone.