Definition of predicament in US English:



  • 1A difficult, unpleasant, or embarrassing situation.

    ‘the club's financial predicament’
    • ‘His predicament allows him to spot unlikely but truthful parallels between comic books and real life.’
    • ‘We are all too often reminded in the media of the financial predicament many pensioners find themselves in.’
    • ‘That was all he said, a string of words said in a broken whisper which made no sense when put in the context of our predicament.’
    • ‘However, I give credit to them for choosing to turn what could have been cliched confrontation scenes into smarter, more unusually human and complex situations - sitcom predicaments made realistic.’
    • ‘Gamblers, and most civilians as well, are continually confronted with predicaments posed by uncertainty and chance.’
    • ‘She started, as though she had thought she was completely alone in her predicament.’
    • ‘It is impossible not to feel sympathy for those caught up in this mess - few of whom can be blamed for their predicament.’
    • ‘As wages decline relative to the cost of living, workers formerly considered part of the middle class fall into lower-income financial predicaments, including debt, loss of health coverage, and lack of savings.’
    • ‘Charcoal burning was represented as a legitimate way out of the person's financial predicaments.’
    • ‘The word crisis is too often used to exaggerate the predicament of a club experiencing hard times.’
    • ‘He must use it wisely if his club are to escape their current predicament.’
    • ‘Considering the wealth of character and the variety of predicaments that are presented, a tidy ending would be difficult, but what we're given is too close to inept for comfort.’
    • ‘His mission, given to him whether he wanted it or not, will reportedly force him to deal with diverse enemies, challenging him to survive intense combat situations as well as other intriguing predicaments.’
    • ‘Thus, there is the serious predicament of an insecurity complex that cannot be easily resolved.’
    • ‘What they often don't realise is that there are plenty of other people out there in the same predicament.’
    difficult situation, awkward situation, mess, difficulty, problematic situation, issue, plight, quandary, trouble, muddle, mare's nest, crisis
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  • 2(in Aristotelian logic) each of the ten “categories,” often listed as: substance or being, quantity, quality, relation, place, time, posture, having or possession, action, and passion.


Late Middle English (in predicament (sense 2)): from late Latin praedicamentum ‘something predicated’ (rendering Greek katēgoria ‘category’), from Latin praedicare (see predicate). From the sense ‘category’ arose the sense ‘state of being, condition’; hence ‘unpleasant situation’.