in a cleft stick

(redirected from cleft stick)
Also found in: Dictionary.

in a cleft stick

In a problematic or difficult situation; having only undesirable or unfavorable options from which to choose. (From the image of being wedged into a crack in a stick, unable to move.) Primarily heard in UK, Australia. Well, we're caught in a cleft stick now! Do we start pushing the car towards town, or hope that someone passes by with a can of petrol? With such unlikable candidates, the public has been left in a cleft stick.
See also: cleft, stick

in a cleft stick

BRITISH, OLD-FASHIONED
If you are in a cleft stick, you are in a difficult situation which you cannot solve easily. I'm in something of a cleft stick — whatever I do, I'll upset someone. Note: This expression may refer to the practice of trapping snakes by holding them down behind the head with a cleft stick (= stick that is Y-shaped at the end).
See also: cleft, stick
References in periodicals archive ?
The second housing problem is also encountered by the young career-oriented Bahraini couples who are caught in a cleft stick because even substantial combined salaries don't meet the very limited bank lending criteria on mortgage offers to buy any new property.
Hodgson said: "If we don't throw them in then, we don't have the players with experience, so it is a cleft stick.
If we don't throw them in then we don't have the players with experience to play the games so it is a cleft stick at the end of the day.
Defra are in a bit of a cleft stick if they are getting left with pounds 3.
Whilst 'unapproved' employee share options continue to be popular with growing companies who want to recruit and retain talented staff they have now become a cleft stick for employees whose share options are due to mature.
ITV is caught in the cleft stick of a (declining) ad market and a completely protected BBC," opines former head of Channel Five David Elstein.
Here the section on the status of the 'stranger' is especially useful, although the narrative does not lead to new conclusions about the position of the Italian aliens in the country, or the representatives of other nations for that matter, who found themselves in a cleft stick between popular xenophobia and aristocratic or humanist interest.
We are at a little bit of a cleft stick in relation to dates as midsummer is difficult from the hotel standpoint as there are conferences here.
However, you're in a cleft stick and you can only put up with the situation.
I can't do gags about chasing girls and sex for much longer, otherwise I'll be in the same cleft stick as poor Benny Hill, growing old and still talking about the same subjects.
Although they are caught in a cleft stick, they are applying sound priorities and an element of fairness to the decisions they are being forced to make.
Tony Blair is hanging on in office long enough to attend the signing of the illegally resuscitated treaty, thereby placing Gordon Brown in a cleft stick, since Labour has promised a referendum on it and if Mr Brown is forced to hold one, he will lose it.
Some 25-1 was salted away early, only for an exhausted runner to arrive from Shropshire, cleft stick clenched between teeth, with the news that Henry Daly had undergone an 11th-hour change of heart and was going to run Palarshan in the race.
Best not to transfer your savings for the time being; it seems that your husband feels in a cleft stick, as it is, due to the guilt trip that seems to have been imposed on him.
They have created a cleft stick from which there is no escape.