be in a cleft stick = be caught in a cleft stick
be in a difficult situation when any action you take will have adverse consequences – chiefly British
Cleft is one of the forms of the past participle of cleave in its basic meaning of divide with a cutting blow or split. The other form still current in standard English is cloven, and the two words tend to be used in different contexts: we find a cleft stick and a cleft palate but a cloven hoof.
be caught in a cleft stick :
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