damned if you do, damned if you don't(redirected from damned if they do, damned if they don't)
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!
Farlex Dictionary of Idioms. © 2015 Farlex, Inc, all rights reserved.
Damned if you do, damned if you don't.
Prov. No matter what you do, it will cause trouble. If I use this money to pay the rent, I won't have enough left over for food. But if I don't use the money to pay the rent, my landlord will evict me. Damned if I do, damned if I don't. Helen: If I invite Shirley to the party, I'm sure she'll get drunk and make an unpleasant scene. But if I don't invite her, she'll never forgive me. Jane: Damned if you do, damned if you don't, huh?
McGraw-Hill Dictionary of American Idioms and Phrasal Verbs. © 2002 by The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc.
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.
The American Heritage® Dictionary of Idioms by Christine Ammer. Copyright © 2003, 1997 by The Christine Ammer 1992 Trust. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.