damned if I/you/they do, damned if I/you don't(redirected from damned if I/you/they do)
damned if (one) does, damned if (one) doesn't
Either possible action (or inaction) would result in a negative outcome or cause one trouble; there is no course of action that does not have a drawback. If I stay in the company, I'll have to take a pay cut, but if I take the severance package, I don't know how I'll find another job in my field. I'm damned if I do, damned if I don't. So your boss will be mad if you miss the work event, and your husband will be disappointed if you skip your anniversary dinner. Yep, you're damned if you do, damned if you don't!
Farlex Dictionary of Idioms. © 2015 Farlex, Inc, all rights reserved.
damned if I/you/they do, damned if I/you don't
Acting or not acting are equally harmful, an insoluble dilemma. This expression dates from the first half of the 1900s, and thus is older than the synonymous catch-22. For example, “If I tell Harry I’m going to John’s party and he’s not invited, both he and John will be furious—I’m damned if I do and damned if I don’t.”
The Dictionary of Clichés by Christine Ammer Copyright © 2013 by Christine Ammer