Dilemma

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Dr. Goodword
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Dilemma

Postby Dr. Goodword » Thu Feb 01, 2018 11:33 pm

• dilemma •


Pronunciation: di-lem-ê • Hear it!

Part of Speech: Noun

Meaning: 1. A choice between two (or, loosely, several) alternatives, which are usually unfavorable. 2. A difficult situation of any sort, a position of doubt or perplexity.

Notes: Since the original meaning limited the choices to two, a common phrase in which today's Good Word appears is 'horns of a dilemma'. Someone suggested trilemma for situations with three difficult choices, and it seems to have caught on. The adjective for this word is dilemmatic. This word may also be used as a verb meaning "to place in a dilemmatic position". Notice the double M in this word. It does not contain an N: NOT dilemna.

In Play: The ultimate meaning of this word distinguishes between only two choices: "Marcia's dilemma is this: should she spend a week with her boyfriend and risk losing her job or stay home and miss a week in Bermuda with her boyfriend." The choice does not have to be between two unfavorable decisions: "Phil Anders finds himself caught on the horns of a dilemma: whether to spend his bonus on a fur coat for his wife or a new set of golf clubs for himself."

Word History: Today's Good Word was taken from letter-for-letter from Late Latin dilemma, that was borrowed from Greek dilemma "double proposition". The Greek word is made up of di- "two, twice" + lemma (plural lemmata) "premise, anything taken or construed". Lemma is a noun based on the verb lambanein "to take, to understand", as in an argument. This sense of take can be seen in the expression "I take it that you want something" or "to take something for granted". This sense of take is the origin of mistake, as in "She mistakes me for her brother all the time." Greek lemma apparently arose from the PIE root (s)lagw- "to seize, take", which ended up in English, minus the Fickle S, as latch. (Let's all now thank Rob Towart for recommending yet another intriguing Good Word.)
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Tom
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Re: Dilemma

Postby Tom » Fri Feb 02, 2018 10:20 am

And so, if a multiple choice, should it be "antlers of the dilemma"? Seriously, is there a goodword which does imply multiple choices, more than two?

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LukeJavan8
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Re: Dilemma

Postby LukeJavan8 » Tue Feb 06, 2018 1:04 pm

Because of words like 'column' I am often wont to spell
this word 'dilemna'. Crazy, I know, but it happens.
-----please, draw me a sheep-----

Philip Hudson
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Re: Dilemma

Postby Philip Hudson » Fri Mar 16, 2018 11:43 pm

Tom: I am sure you know that antlers are not the same as horns. Neither are rhinoceros horns for that matter. When we played the childhood game of horns, we ignored the difference of these various animal protuberances and called them all horns. If you do not know the game of horns you haven't missed much.
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