the lesser of two evils

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the lesser of two evils

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

lesser of two evils

the less bad thing of a pair of bad things. I didn't like either politician, so I voted for the lesser of two evils. Given the options of going out with someone I don't like and staying home and watching a boring television program, I chose the lesser of the two evils and watched television.
See also: evil, lesser, of, two

lesser of two evils

The somewhat less unpleasant of two poor choices. For example, I'd rather stay home and miss the picnic altogether than run into those nasty people-it's the lesser of two evils . This expression was already a proverb in ancient Greek and appeared in English by the late 1300s. Chaucer used it in Troilus and Cressida.
See also: evil, lesser, of, two

the lesser of two evils

or

the lesser evil

COMMON If you have to choose between two bad things, you can call the one which is less bad the lesser of two evils or the lesser evil. Should she choose life on the streets or the bad marriage? In the end it seemed the street was the lesser of two evils. In a continent where economic successes are rare, this sort of regime may seem a lesser evil than abject poverty.
See also: evil, lesser, of, two

the ˌlesser of two ˈevils

,

the ˌlesser ˈevil

the less unpleasant of two unpleasant choices: Neither candidate seemed capable of governing the country. People voted for him as the lesser of two evils.
See also: evil, lesser, of, two
References in periodicals archive ?
He ruled out abortion, saying: "Abortion is not a lesser evil.
The number of asylum seekers will reach 5 million in Turkey if Assad is viewed and praised as a lesser evil.
The Vatican yesterday said the condom was a lesser evil in such a case, signalling a seismic shift in papal teaching as it further explained the pope's comments.
The Vatican yesterday said the was condom a lesser evil in such a case, signalling a seismic shift in papal teaching as it further explained the Pope's comments.
However, the use of condoms to stop the deadly contact, in limited situations and emergencies, is judged by the Church as a lesser evil.
Though it is true that sometimes it is lawful to tolerate a lesser evil to avoid a greater moral evil or in order to promote a greater moral good, it is never lawful, even for the gravest reasons, to do evil that good may come of it" (Humanae vitae, n.
Thomas at the University of Fribourg, Switzerland, more than 40 years ago, I learned that traditional Catholic moral theology always taught that we could never choose to do evil, even a lesser evil.
Bush in some senses may be a lesser evil than the vice president.
Obrycki also questions the argument that Bt corn is a lesser evil than old pesticides.
Here we are again--stuck with trying to figure out what to do about another Presidential election, another choice of a lesser evil in which the adjective gets cloudier and cloudier while the noun gets clearer and clearer.
What I have said is: Some circles are giving the violent acts of the al-Qaeda terrorist organization as an excuse and are trying to show Assad as a lesser evil.
I would say, as I have just said now, you keep having to balance what is a lesser evil," the South African prelate told the BBC.
But in a book released on Tuesday, he said condom use by people such as male prostitutes was a lesser evil since it indicated they were taking a step toward a more moral and responsible sexuality.
Manning tells of indicating to an Ottawa reporter that destroying embryos to save lives is a lesser evil than destroying them for no purpose.
This goes against one of the basic principles of revered 18th-century economist Adam Smith, who argued that inequality in taxes was a lesser evil than even a small degree of uncertainty.