A Word A Day : Quandary

Thursday, 20th March 2008 : Today's Word is ...


( Noun )

Pronunciation : kwónde-ree & kwóndree


1. a state of uncertainty or indecision as to what to do in a difficult situation

2. a situation from which extrication is difficult especially an unpleasant or trying one

3. trouble or confusion resulting from complexity

4. a predicament from which a skillful or graceful escape is impossible


1579, state of perplexity - of unknown origin - perhaps a quasi-Latinism based on L. quando - when


bewilderment, bind, box, catch 22, clutch, corner, difficulty, dilemma, double trouble, doubt, embarrassment, hang-up, impasse, mire, perplexity, pickle, plight, predicament, puzzle, spot, strait, uncertainty


certainty, decisiveness, calm, peace, peace of mind, serenity, advantage, solution

Contextual Examples:

• We were in a quandary as to whether we should go on vacation this week or next week.

• Once or twice as I stood waiting there for things to accomplish themselves, I could not resist an impulse to laugh at my miserable quandary.

• Weeks had listened politely, with smiling modesty, till Hayward finished; then he asked one or two insidious questions, so innocent in appearance that Hayward, not seeing into what a quandary they led him, answered blandly.

• The school commissioners were in a quandary over the needful size of an open-air playground.

• Don told me of the quandary that the authorities were in. Should the ruins be left untouched or should they be reconstructed for a new wave of tourists?

Related Words:

quandaries : Noun - Plural

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