One of the mysteries of the English language finally explained.
proper nounGreek Mythology
A female sea monster who devoured sailors when they tried to navigate the narrow channel between her cave and the whirlpool Charybdis. In later legend Scylla was a dangerous rock, located on the Italian side of the Strait of Messina.
between Scylla and Charybdis
Used to refer to a situation involving two dangers in which an attempt to avoid one increases the risk from the other.
- ‘Ah, the joys of being a late Boomer in middle-age, caught between Scylla and Charybdis.’
- ‘Racing down the straight, under the railway bridge, knocking my shins against Scylla and Charybdis, I make it to the end.’
- ‘So most US voters think things are going really well, when in fact the CPA is piloting between Scylla and Charybdis.’
- ‘Sceptics about musical meaning tend to regard these alternatives under the sign of Scylla and Charybdis, as formidable dangers nearly impossible to avoid.’
- ‘With software that asked voters to confirm their choices, the new machinery, it was thought, would avoid the Scylla and Charybdis of over-votes and under-votes.’
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