Between the devil and the deep blue sea
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British pronunciation/bɪtwˌiːn ðə dˈɛvəl and ðə dˈiːp blˈuː sˈiː/
American pronunciation/bɪtwˌiːn ðə dˈɛvəl ænd ðə dˈiːp blˈuː sˈiː/
01

in a situation where both choices lead to an undesirable outcome

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between the devil and the deep blue sea definition and meaning

What is the origin of the idiom "between the devil and the deep blue sea" and when to use it?

The origin of the idiom "between the devil and the deep blue sea" can be attributed to nautical folklore and maritime language. In old sailing terminology, "the devil" referred to the seam (gap) between the planks of a ship's hull, which was known for being narrow and hard to access. On the other hand, "the deep blue sea" symbolized the vast, unknown and potentially dangerous waters. Sailors faced a dilemma when repairing a ship's hull: they had to choose between the difficulty of fixing the devil or the risk of going into the deep blue sea. It is often used to convey a sense of being trapped or in a predicament without any ideal solution.

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Example
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The conservationist was caught between the devil and the deep blue sea, faced with the decision of supporting development that would harm the environment or opposing it and endangering local jobs.
The politician was stuck between the devil and the deep blue sea, forced to decide between compromising their principles to appease their party or standing firm and risking their political career.
The entrepreneur found themselves between the devil and the deep blue sea, having to choose between bankruptcy or accepting a predatory deal.
The patient found themselves between the devil and the deep blue sea, having to choose between a risky surgery or living with a debilitating condition.
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Meaning of "Between the devil and the deep blue sea"
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