Definition of dilemma noun from the Oxford Advanced Learner's Dictionary



BrE BrE//dɪˈlemə//
; NAmE NAmE//dɪˈlemə//
; BrE BrE//daɪˈlemə//
; NAmE NAmE//daɪˈlemə//
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  • a situation which makes problems, often one in which you have to make a very difficult choice between things of equal importance synonym predicament to face a dilemma to be in a dilemma
  • Word Origin early 16th cent. (denoting a form of argument involving a choice between equally unfavourable alternatives): via Latin from Greek dilēmma, from di- ‘twice’ + lēmma ‘premise’.Extra examples I could see no way of resolving this moral dilemma. I couldn’t see any way out of the dilemma. She faced a dilemma about whether to accept the offer or not. The dilemma facing the country’s allies was even more serious. The dilemma over human cloning lies at the heart of the ethical choices facing society. The fundamental dilemma remains: in a tolerant society, should we tolerate intolerance? The minister is now in an impossible dilemma. They were caught in a real dilemma. This poses a difficult dilemma for teachers. the dilemma that arises when a doctor has to decide whether or not to prescribe an expensive treatment the perennial dilemma between getting on at work and fulfilling family commitments the perennial dilemma between work and family commitments The dire economic situation had placed the prime minister on the horns of a dilemma.Idioms
    on the horns of a dilemma
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    in a situation in which you have to make a choice between things that are equally unpleasant The medical profession’s eagerness for scientific advance had impaled it on the horns of a dilemma, forcing an unnatural choice between science and morality.
    See the Oxford Advanced American Dictionary entry: dilemma