the lesser of two evils


Also found in: Dictionary, Thesaurus, Wikipedia.

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
Farlex Dictionary of Idioms. © 2015 Farlex, Inc, all rights reserved.

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
McGraw-Hill Dictionary of American Idioms and Phrasal Verbs. © 2002 by The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc.

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 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.

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
Collins COBUILD Idioms Dictionary, 3rd ed. © HarperCollins Publishers 2012

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
Farlex Partner Idioms Dictionary © Farlex 2017

lesser of two evils

See choice between two evils.
See also: evil, lesser, of, two
The Dictionary of Clichés by Christine Ammer Copyright © 2013 by Christine Ammer
See also:
References in periodicals archive ?
If you vote for Clinton as the lesser of two evils, you're compromising your moral values, you're condoning the IDemocratic Party's shoddy treatment of millions of progressives, and you're sabotaging future real change.
"But we know that doesn't usually happen in the world in which we inhabit and say what is the lesser of two evils: to let him have a soft landing and save the lives of as many people as we possibly can."
He added that "the lesser of two evils" could be to let Kadhafi "have a soft landing and save the lives of as many people as you possibly can."
Are Catholics ever allowed to see abortion as the lesser of two evils? In the face of such moral dilemmas, the automatic excommunication is intended to leave no doubt as to where the church's leadership stands.
Pahlavi said that while Iran has conducted elections regularly for several decades with international approval, the pre-selection of candidates by the powerful Guardian Council has required voters to choose among ''the lesser of two evils or multiple evils.''
The sins (see www.terrachoice.com) include hidden tradeoffs, no proof, irrelevance, vagueness, fibbing and the lesser of two evils. The impeccant product was Quebec-based Cascades' 100-per-cent recycled paper towels.
The refinements are these: That Syria was planning to supply Iran with spent nuclear fuel from Al-Kibar, the site Israel bombed in September; that discrepancies found in the amount of fissile material North Korea (Syria's adviser in the construction of Al-Kibar) declared and the amount it could have produced, drastically alter intelligence calculations of how soon Iran could get enough material to make a nuclear bomb; that the point of no-return in Tehran's bomb program is now 2010; and that, yes, there would be regional consequences to a strike on Iran's nuclear facilities, but that these would be the lesser of two evils. Even if an Israeli PM was only 70 percent certain of the reliability of this intelligence, it would be enough to persuade him or her to press the button.
More than half of Republicans (59%) would choose the Democrat they view as the lesser of two evils as opposed to the one they think would be easier to beat.
The final text states recalls that "Europe [is] based on balanced economic growth and price stability." Some may say that was the lesser of two evils. It is a fact that Paris defended the idea - with its own agenda in mind - of replacing the question of price stability (the European Central Bank's number one objective) with different wording ("non-inflationary growth"), which the Germans did not support.
If it is his medial ligament then that is the lesser of two evils because the anterior cruciate ligament would be the worst case scenario."
Litter is the lesser of two evils. Don't get me wrong, I hate human litter too.
To conclude, it's a question of finding the lesser of two evils: a full back-up followed by recovery server creation costing thousands of pounds or a brick-level back up costing hours of precious time.
Lighter shoes permit higher transmission of shock and are less stable, so the energy cost of a heavier, more impact force-resistant shoe--at 0.342% per ounce of shoe weight--is, if not entirely negligible, the lesser of two evils.
I am neither a Democrat nor a Republican, and I am weary of having to choose "the lesser of two evils." My husband, a denominational pastor, and I were hard-pressed to offer parishioners advice during the last election.
Yes, this is about choosing the lesser of two evils. Underestimating the real differences in the candidates--despite their problematic similarities--is partly what enabled this disastrous Administration to take over.