Open main menu

Wiktionary β

between a rock and a hard place




Related to the concept of the Ancient Greeks: "between Scylla and Charybdis." Originated in the United States before 1918 in southwest, possibly in connection with mining.


Prepositional phraseEdit

between a rock and a hard place

  1. (idiomatic, US) To be bankrupt.
  2. (idiomatic) To be in a difficult and inescapable position.
  3. (idiomatic) Having the choice between two unpleasant or distasteful options; in a predicament or quandary.
    • 1970, David Sim, "Tangent":
      Husbands, it seems to me, are caught between the Rock of Feminism and the Hard Place of their own marriages []
    • 2008 Sept. 11, Eric Dash and Geraldine Fabrikant, "Washington Mutual stock falls on investor fears", New York Times (retrieved 24 Aug 2012):
      If Washington Mutual needs to raise capital quickly, it will very likely find itself between a rock and a hard place, because credit markets have all but closed their doors to troubled banks.