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American Dictionary of the English Language

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Dilemma


DILEMMA, noun [Gr., a syllogism which strikes on each side; an assumption; to take.]

1. In logic, an argument equally conclusive by contrary suppositions. A young rhetorician said to an old sophist; Instruct me in pleading, and I will pay you, when I gain a cause. The master sued for the reward, and the scholar endeavored to elude the claim by a dilemma If I gain my cause, I shall withhold your pay, because the award of the judge will be against you. It I lose it, I may withhold it, because I shall not yet have gained a cause. The master replied: If you gain your cause, you must pay me, because you are to pay me, when you gain a cause; if you lose it, you must pay me, because you are to pay me, when you gain a cause; if you lose it, you must pay me, because the judge will award it.

2. A difficult or doubtful choice; a state of things in which evils or obstacles present themselves on every side, and it is difficult to determine what course to pursue.

A strong dilemma in a desperate case!

To act with infamy, or quit the place.