What's in a Word | All Blogs


On the horns of a dilemma

By Debra Dobbins


Writers sometimes use “dilemma” as a synonym for “problem.” Breaking the word into two parts, however, reveals a more precise meaning—one used in the headline above.

“Di” is a prefix that means twice, two or double. (Examples are dipolar, disulfide, dihedral, dihybrid.) “Lemma” was a Greek word meaning a proposition, or something taken or received.

Webster’s first definition is “an argument necessitating a choice between equally unfavorable or disagreeable alternatives.”

Webster’s second definition is “any situation in which one must choose between unpleasant alternatives.” (A key word in both definitions is “between,” which is used with two, and no more, items. Use ”among” for three or more items.)

Arising from “dilemma” is the idiom “on the horns of a dilemma.” It’s a vivid way to describe the discomfort felt in making a vexing choice.

To read the full story on the Packers’ dilemma, head to 2B in today’s print edition or e-edition.

Illustration special to the Sentinel


 

COMMENTS

Please Login or Register to leave a comment.




Recent Posts
Garden mysteries
By Penny Stine
Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Kersplash!
By Richie Ann Ashcraft
Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Sometimes second is best!
By Julie Norman
Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Walking onion harvest
By Penny Stine
Monday, August 18, 2014

Welcome to Broncos country
By Melinda Mawdsley
Monday, August 18, 2014


TOP JOBS




THE DAILY SENTINEL
734 S. Seventh St.
Grand Junction, CO 81501
970-242-5050
Editions
Subscribe to print edition
E-edition
Advertisers
Sign in to your account
Information

© 2014 Grand Junction Media, Inc.
By using this site you agree to the Visitor Agreement and the Privacy Policy