Definition of quandary in English:



  • 1A state of perplexity or uncertainty over what to do in a difficult situation.

    ‘Kate is in a quandary’
    • ‘Their descendants have been left in a quandary.’
    • ‘Such drastic tactics may be warranted, according to Horne, because the current situation is putting drug agencies in a quandary.’
    • ‘However, he said the family was now in a quandary.’
    • ‘I was in a quandary: should I just buy this hoping it was lemongrass or should I ask the man inside if it was lemongrass first?’
    • ‘And I think there was a real concern on the part of everyone - we were in a quandary, frankly, right from the very beginning.’
    • ‘The depths of this understanding - which I had not at all expected - put me in a quandary.’
    • ‘In a quandary he contacted me to see if I could help find someone who could help.’
    • ‘He was in a quandary, and a lifelong friend of his suggested that he phone me.’
    • ‘It is clear Equitable Life's decision to call a halt to new business has left many policy holders in a quandary.’
    • ‘Even the secretary at the Leader of the Opposition office is in a quandary.’
    • ‘Necessary as these changes are, they leave us in a quandary.’
    • ‘I find myself in a quandary of sorts and wonder if you have any advice or insights you may be able to offer a young-ish, aspiring writer of fiction for the screen.’
    • ‘The peasants are in a quandary: They want to kill the man, but no one is ready to take responsibility for the action.’
    • ‘Year after year, however, we'd always find ourselves in a quandary.’
    • ‘Jones has found that we are currently in a quandary comparable to that of the Red Queen in Through the Looking Glass: we have to run faster and faster just to stay in the same place.’
    • ‘The issue of a present for Mother left me in a quandary, however.’
    • ‘But it has left many life assurers in a quandary, wondering whether to continue backing IFAs or enter into multi-tied agreements.’
    • ‘I'm what you'd call Old Labour and I'll be in a quandary at the next election: how can I vote for a party that doesn't really exist anymore?’
    • ‘I too would be in a quandary as to how to vote were we to have a referendum soon - just like many of the French interviewed about their voting intentions in the past few days.’
    • ‘Jimmy Thomson was in a quandary last Wednesday night.’
    dilemma, plight, predicament, state of uncertainty, state of perplexity, unfortunate situation, difficult situation, awkward situation
    trouble, muddle, mix-up, mare's nest, mess, confusion, difficulty, impasse, stalemate
    cleft stick
    sticky situation, pickle, hole, stew, fix, bind, jam
    View synonyms
    1. 1.1A difficult situation; a practical dilemma.
      ‘a legal quandary’
      • ‘The best science fiction is the science fiction that uses fantastical or futuristic elements to tell stories that relate to timeless experiences, problems and quandaries.’
      • ‘Computers and networks affect our politics because they reach into every nook and cranny of our lives and further complicate some longstanding political quandaries.’
      • ‘A procedural approach is useful and sometimes necessary when a person is faced with a quandary or dilemma.’
      • ‘The result is a somewhat muddled, yet quite trackable, series of sugarcoated philosophical quandaries that go down like chocolate-covered fish.’
      • ‘Whenever Britain is in a royal mess over some fiendishly tricky quandary, we beseech Queen Mary for her counsel.’
      • ‘Yet this is the fundamental quandary of democracy: although we recognize its pitfalls, there is no real alternative to public debate.’
      • ‘Procedures include applying frameworks and principles for ethical decision making and are important in situations of conflict or mistrust when we are faced with dilemmas or quandaries in practice.’
      • ‘For narrative complexity, Hideo Kojima's Metal Gear Solid series and Amy Hennig's Legacy of Kain games offer stories rich with nuance and complicated moral quandaries.’
      • ‘Whenever life presents us problems or quandaries that test the very bounds of our understanding, we turn to our elected officials in their legislative capacity to draw us out of dilemma's fire.’
      • ‘His injury created a bit of a catching quandary since starter Brian Johnson battled knee problems in spring training.’
      • ‘The moral quandaries, the psychological conundrums are deeper.’
      • ‘Boost your ethical know-how with these practical tips on avoiding common ethical quandaries.’
      • ‘This apparent dilemma is a familiar quandary in traditional epistemology.’
      • ‘Its vignettes of executives grappling with difficult problems will help others confront their own quandaries.’
      • ‘These boulders on a path near a York beauty spot have landed village leaders in a legal quandary following complaints from a disabled angler.’
      • ‘Solving The Colorado Problem is one of baseball's more fascinating quandaries.’
      • ‘The tendency of novel theory to define the novel as a genre that is sui generis does lead to certain impasses and quandaries, whether in the theory of the novel as such or of a subgenre like the Bildungsroman.’
      • ‘Such an approach not only allows the authors to discuss the work from many different angles, but allows them to do so without implying that the practical quandaries in The Angel of History can be reduced to a simple meaning.’
      • ‘But beyond the quandaries presented by Isabella's complex purchasing practices, the social niceties of shopping often created vexed issues for all strata of the Renaissance consumer society.’
      • ‘It turns out that this is a harder task than it might initially seem: quandaries, conundrums, and tensions within our conception of perception arise.’


Late 16th century: perhaps partly from Latin quando when.