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between a rock and a hard place meaning

between a rock and a hard place Facing two equally unpleasant, dangerous, or risky alternatives, where the avoidance of one ensures encountering the harm of. Meaning: In difficulty, faced with a choice between two unsatisfactory options. Background: This phrase apparently originated in the USA in the early part. In this idiom, "rock" and "hard place" are both metaphors for a bad situation. The connotation is that the situations are impassable, meaning there are no. NCAAF RANKINGS

The first of these quite literally conveys the uncomfortable nature of the choice between two lemmas propositions , that is, 'on the horns of a dilemma'. Other phrases that compare two less than desirable alternatives are 'the lesser of two evils', ' between the devil and the deep blue sea ', 'between Scylla and Charybdis', ' an offer you can't refuse ' and ' Hobson's choice '. The earliest known printed citation of 'between a rock and a hard place' is in the American Dialect Society's publication Dialect Notes V, "To be between a rock and a hard place, Common in Arizona in recent panics; sporadic in California.

This financial crisis was especially damaging to the mining and railroad industries of the western states. In the lack of funding precipitated by the earlier banking crisis led to a dispute between copper mining companies and mineworkers in Bisbee, Arizona.

The workers, some of whom had organized in labour unions, approached the company management with a list of demands for better pay and conditions. These were refused and subsequently many workers at the Bisbee mines were forcibly deported to New Mexico. It's tempting to surmise, given that the mineworkers were faced with a choice between harsh and underpaid work at the rock-face on the one hand and unemployment and poverty on the other, that this is the source of the phrase.

Kira: I know. And families are supposed to help each other. Dan: But you could be arrested too if they find out. Neither solution is a good one. The following example demonstrates the idiom being used to describe a choice between two jobs. Gertrude: How did the latest job interview go? Ruby: Well, I have good news and bad news.

Gertrude: The good news is that I love the job, and they want to hire me.

Between a rock and a hard place meaning difference between x chromosomes and y chromosomes in placenta


The first thing to note is that idiomatic expressions are phrases or sentences that have a meaning that has already been universally accepted and shared by a community. However, it is important to clarify that in each idiomatic expression there are two possible readings: the first is the literal meaning of each component or word that makes up the phrase, and the second is the real meaning of the expression for the society that transcends the literal definition of each of its elements.

In other words, an idiomatic expression may not make any logical sense if it is interpreted literally in each of the words that form it, so the best way to understand an idiomatic phrase is to assume the real meaning that the social collective has assigned to it from the moment of its creation.

The idiomatic expression is a kind of metaphor, with the advantage that, unlike literary metaphors, this one is understood, assumed, and adopted by most people, whether they use it regularly or not. Idiomatic expressions are a block interpretation of a feeling or situation, they can never be an individual interpretation of each of its elements, which is why these phrases have become much more than idioms or colloquialisms to become vocabulary.

As already mentioned, the phrase "caught between a rock and a hard place" means to be faced with two equally terrible situations, with no favorable option as a realistic scenario, and to be forced to choose one of them despite the terrible consequences. Normally these two situations to choose from are opposites or contradictory and the selection of some of them will inevitably mean a setback for the person or persons involved. It is undeniable that the literal meaning of the sentence is very graphic, you only must imagine someone who is being pointed with a sword against a wall to understand the meaning of the expression, even if it is someone who is hearing this phrase for the first time in his life.

But what is the origin of this popular phrase and how has it come to be so often referred to by people all over the world in situations of distress or desperation? The older the origin of things is, the more difficult is its objective historical verification, and the scarcer are the tangible evidence that supports its exact creation, leaving as the only possible sources the word of mouth transmitted from generation to generation or other more speculative or subjective evidence.

Based on the above, one of the most widespread theories of the origin of the phrase goes back to Greek mythology. Between Italy and Greece lies the Strait of Messina, which was considered extremely dangerous in all matters relating to the navigation of ships because its depths were inhabited by two fearsome monsters: Scylla and Charybdis, each living at opposite ends of the strait.

Although the two monsters were different from each other, both were equally fearsome and dangerous due to their characteristics. Scylla was at first a kind of nymph but later transformed into a horrible seven-headed monster, while Charybdis had as a particular attribute the ability to swallow huge amounts of water that would later transform into giant whirlpools, causing the sinking of all ships passing through that area.

Although all ships knew of the existence of these two monsters and did everything humanly possible to avoid them when navigating those waters, it was impossible to go unnoticed in the eyes of these monsters since the ends of the strait were awfully close to each other and any maneuver of the sailors was practically useless, being inevitably trapped between Scylla and Charybdis.

This caused the phrase "between Scylla and Charybdis" to be used more and more to refer to an extreme situation and impossible to escape, with time this phrase would evolve and change to the expression widely used today "to be caught between a rock and a hard place".

Origin In American Culture A much more recent origin of this idiomatic expression can be found in the United States at the beginning of the 20th century. There is not much more documented data to explain what happened at that time for this phrase to be adopted within the vocabulary of the time, it was simply that it began to be recognized that being between two situations of great difficulty and with no visible way out was the same as "being between a rock and a hard place".

Origin In Pop Culture An even more diffuse origin than the other two explained above is the one that some people assign to it but which has no basis or foundation, and that is the association of the idiomatic expression with the era of swordsmen, with sword fights to the death and even with the sport of fencing as the point of origin of the phrase to be caught between the sword and the wall.

Although it seems much more superficial and devoid of tangible evidence to prove its veracity , it cannot be categorically assured that this theory is false and that on the contrary the other two are completely true, simply all contribute and enrich the value and validity of the phrase in today's popular culture. How People Use This Phrase Below we will review some of the main situations in which people currently use the phrase "to be caught between a rock and a hard place".

I couldn't make up my mind. I was caught between a rock and a hard place. He had a dilemma on his hands. He was clearly between the devil and the deep blue sea. Between two equally difficult or unacceptable choices. For example, Trying to please both my boss and his supervisor puts me between a rock and a hard place.

The rock and hard place version is the newest of these synonymous phrases, dating from the early s, and alludes to being caught or crushed between two rocks. The oldest is Scylla and Charybdis, which in Homer's Odyssey signified a monster on a rock Scylla and a fatal whirlpool Charybdis , between which Odysseus had to sail through a narrow passage.

It was used figuratively by the Roman writer Virgil and many writers since. The devil in devil and deep blue sea, according to lexicographer Charles Earle Funk, referred to a seam around a ship's hull near the waterline, which, if a sailor was trying to caulk it in heavy seas, would cause him to fall overboard. Others disagree, however, and believe the phrase simply alludes to a choice between hellfire with the devil and drowning in deep waters.

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English Tutor Nick P Idioms (275) Between a Rock and a Hard Place between a rock and a hard place meaning

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