This year I'm taking part in the Dog Days of Summer Podcasting Challenge, a fun little project where people around the world try to publish a new show every day for 30-ish days. Today is the third episode of the arc, and the phrases is "between a rock an a hard place". The idiom originated on the west coast of America in the early part of the 20th century, and is the American manifestation of a phrase that exists in several forms in other cultures.
The dilemma of being in a position where one is faced with two equally unwelcome options appears to lie deep in the human psyche. Language always reflects people's preoccupations and there are several phrases that express this predicament. 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.