between a rock and a hard place


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between a rock and a hard place

Facing two equally unpleasant, dangerous, or risky alternatives, where the avoidance of one ensures encountering the harm of the other. I was between a rock and a hard place, for if I didn't take out another loan—and go deeper into debt—I could not pay off the debts I already owed. You were really between a rock and a hard place when you had to choose between your career and your relationship.
See also: and, hard, place, rock

between a rock and a hard place

 and between the devil and the deep blue sea
Fig. in a very difficult position; facing a hard decision. I couldn't make up my mind. I was caught between a rock and a hard place. He had a dilemma on his hands. He was clearly between the devil and the deep blue sea.
See also: and, hard, place, rock

between a rock and a hard place

Also, between the devil and the deep blue sea or Scylla and Charybdis . Between two equally difficult or unacceptable choices. For example, Trying to please both my boss and his supervisor puts me between a rock and a hard place . The rock and hard place version is the newest of these synonymous phrases, dating from the early 1900s, and alludes to being caught or crushed between two rocks. The oldest is Scylla and Charybdis, which in Homer's Odyssey signified a monster on a rock (Scylla) and a fatal whirlpool (Charybdis), between which Odysseus had to sail through a narrow passage. It was used figuratively by the Roman writer Virgil and many writers since. The devil in devil and deep blue sea, according to lexicographer Charles Earle Funk, referred to a seam around a ship's hull near the waterline, which, if a sailor was trying to caulk it in heavy seas, would cause him to fall overboard. Others disagree, however, and believe the phrase simply alludes to a choice between hellfire with the devil and drowning in deep waters.
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between a rock and a hard place

If you are between a rock and a hard place, you are in a difficult situation where you have to choose between two equally unpleasant courses of action. You're between a rock and a hard place here. If you challenge John about his decision, he's going to be annoyed but if you don't, your staff are going to hate you. Note: People often say that they are caught or stuck between a rock and a hard place. We were caught between a rock and a hard place. We could spend two months planning the operation properly and people would say we were too late, or we could start immediately and be criticized for lack of preparation. Goss finds himself stuck between a rock and a hard place. Whichever course of action he chooses, he'll lose the support of some people.
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between a rock and a hard place

in a situation where you are faced with two equally difficult or unpleasant alternatives. informal
1998 Times They are saying now, as they once said of Richard Nixon , that Bill Clinton is ‘between a rock and a hard place’.
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(caught/stuck) between a ˌrock and a ˈhard place

in a situation where you have to choose between two things, both of which are unpleasant: The workers now feel that they are caught between a rock and a hard place. They don’t agree with the new terms and conditions, but if they go on strike they may lose their jobs altogether.
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between a rock and a hard place

mod. in a very difficult position; facing a hard decision. I’m between a rock and a hard place. I don’t know what to do.
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between a rock and a hard place

Confronted with equally unpleasant alternatives and few or no opportunities to evade or circumvent them.
See also: and, hard, place, rock