between the hammer and the anvil
Referring to the metal on a blacksmith's anvil, which is beaten with a hammer.
- (principally Britain, idiomatic) With the choice between two unpleasant or distasteful options; in a predicament or quandary.
1848, Jean Henri Merle d'Aubigné, The Protector, a vindication, page 250:
- Yet for a time the nation was again placed between the democracy of the levellers and the despotism of the Stuarts, — between the hammer and the anvil.
- 1990, Judas Priest, Between The Hammer and the Anvil
- The sinner / Will testify / They'll suffer / When sacrificed on high / The burning sermons purge their evil words / Between the hammer and the anvil
with the choice between two unpleasant or distasteful options