damned if I do, damned if I don't


Also found in: Acronyms.

damned if you do, damned if you don't

Every possible action (or inaction) would result in a negative outcome or cause you trouble; there is no course of action that does not have a drawback. So your boss will be mad if you miss the work event, and your husband will be disappointed if you skip your anniversary dinner. Damned if you do, damned if you don't!
See also: damned, if

damned if I do, damned if I don't

A situation in which one can't win. For example, If I invite Aunt Jane, Mother will be angry, and if I don't, I lose Jane's friendship-I'm damned if I do and damned if I don't . Eric Partridge suggested this idiom may have come from the emphatic I'm damned if I do, meaning "I definitely will not do something," but despite the similar wording the quite different meaning argues against this theory. [Colloquial; first half of 1900s] Also see catch-22.
See also: damned, if
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