One of the mysteries of the English language finally explained.
Be in a situation in which any action one takes will have adverse consequences.
- ‘The general, adept in running with the hare and hunting with the hound, is now caught in a cleft stick.’
- ‘Yes, but on either way it seems to me you are caught in a cleft stick.’
- ‘They're caught in a cleft stick situation where they either face being beaten up by dealers or arrested by the police for selling drugs.’
- ‘To the east of Bhutan, in Burma, Buddhism is caught in a cleft stick: since colonial days Buddhist monks have been involved in politics.’
- ‘As a result, the Sri Lankan ruling class has been caught in a cleft stick.’
- ‘But in fact the administration is in a cleft stick.’
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