lesser evil

lesser evil

The less offensive of two undesirable options. Both options are unpalatable, but the lesser evil, in this case, is selling the house. Polls show that the candidate is not well-liked, but is viewed as the lesser evil.
See also: evil, lesser

the lesser evil (or the lesser of two evils)

the less harmful or unpleasant of two bad choices or possibilities.
See also: evil, lesser
References in classic literature ?
This they affirm to be the origin and nature of justice;--it is a mean or compromise, between the best of all, which is to do injustice and not be punished, and the worst of all, which is to suffer injustice without the power of retaliation; and justice, being at a middle point between the two, is tolerated not as a good, but as the lesser evil, and honoured by reason of the inability of men to do injustice.
Never let any Government imagine that it can choose perfectly safe courses; rather let it expect to have to take very doubtful ones, because it is found in ordinary affairs that one never seeks to avoid one trouble without running into another; but prudence consists in knowing how to distinguish the character of troubles, and for choice to take the lesser evil.
It may display the subtlety of the writer; it may open a boundless field for rhetoric and declamation; it may inflame the passions of the unthinking, and may confirm the prejudices of the misthinking: but cool and candid people will at once reflect, that the purest of human blessings must have a portion of alloy in them; that the choice must always be made, if not of the lesser evil, at least of the GREATER, not the PERFECT, good; and that in every political institution, a power to advance the public happiness involves a discretion which may be misapplied and abused.
Ferrars's flattering language as only a lesser evil than his chusing Lucy Steele, she feared that Robert's offence would serve no other purpose than to enrich Fanny.
Carthoris shrugged his broad shoulders and chose the lesser evil. Warily he entered the room.
But all my care and pains were unavailing, for my master made the discovery that I was not a man, and harboured the same base designs as my servant; and as fortune does not always supply a remedy in cases of difficulty, and I had no precipice or ravine at hand down which to fling the master and cure his passion, as I had in the servant's case, I thought it a lesser evil to leave him and again conceal myself among these crags, than make trial of my strength and argument with him.
Last year, Duterte said he will leave jueteng "for now." He supported this statement in June this year when he said he preferred jueteng since it was the lesser evil compared to illegal drugs.
Duterte's decision to go easy on the illegal numbers game because "jueteng" is supposedly "a lesser evil" compared to the illegal drug trade.
The senator also took a swipe at Dela Rosa's remark that jueteng is a 'lesser evil' compared to illegal drug trade.
EDITORIAL - 'A lesser evil' !-- -- (The Philippine Star) - June 29, 2019 - 12:00am Compared to the drug scourge, illegal gambling is the lesser evil, according to President Duterte.
This is absolutely a lesser evil than we had 20 years ago when players would go off for five or six weeks and come back overweight, saying 'pre-season's for getting fit."
But Neville says that while the posts aren't ideal, Lingard's activity represents "a lesser evil" to the days when players would drink too much and put on weight during the off-season.
"I advise Tunisians not to take the results of the polling organisations seriously, though they "probably" have no influence on the citizens voting behaviour," he indicated, adding: In any case, "we cannot say that Tunisia is doing well but we are in "the lesser evil" compared to our neighbours.
For, truth be told, between boda bodas and matatus, it's difficult to tell which is the lesser evil.
"In this painful process, a lesser evil would be the pre-qualification of the criminal act", says Xhelili.