between a rock and a hard place

between a rock and a hard place


  • having two very bad choices
  • in a very difficult situation
  • facing a hard decision
  • having two equally unpleasant or unacceptable options


  1. I hate my job but cannot quit owing to my economic condition. I’m stuck between a rock and a hard place
  2. I can’t make up my mind whose side I am on; I’m caught between a rock and a hard place
  3. He was caught between a rock and a hard place. If he accepted the offer, he would have to work long hours with low pay, if he didn’t, he would lose his livelihood.
  4. Our company was caught between a rock and a hard place. If we made the deal, we would make a monetary loss and if we didn’t, we would lose our reputation.
  5. They are both my brothers! I can’t go against either of them. I am stuck between a rock and a hard place.

This phrase originated in USA in the early 1900s. Several other phrases having the same meaning also exist in many cultures. This phrase was used during an economic crisis when mining workers faced low wages working at the rock face on one hand and unemployment and poverty on the other if the refused to work.

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Idiom of the Day

put your foot in it

Meaning: say something (by mistake) that upsets, humiliates, or embarrasses someone

Example: Carla put her foot right in it when she congratulated her neighbour on being pregnant. It turns out she's not expecting but had just put on weight. Read on


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