Definition of Sophie's choice in US English:

Sophie's choice

noun

  • Used in reference to a difficult situation in which a person must choose between two equally deserving alternatives.

    ‘for environmentalists, it's something of a Sophie's choice: do we want clean, smog-free air at the local level or lower greenhouse gas emissions at the global level?’
    ‘fans find themselves having to make a Sophie's Choice between two favorite bands, foregoing one to see the other play’
    • ‘It's not exactly Sophie's Choice, but this year's crowded crop of Emmy nominees presents a conundrum for more than a few series.’
    • ‘Picking between those two on Tuesday nights is the Sophie's Choice of television.’
    • ‘It's the Sophie's Choice of sports: bail on your team to try to salvage some money or sacrifice your one big chance at a contract to try to help your teammates.’
    • ‘You never want to betray your frenemies, but when you have the opportunity to get what you want, it's a Sophie's choice.’
    • ‘Nobody likes being pushed into a Sophie's choice over which gadget gets to live for the next day and which one doesn't.’
    • ‘The subtitles are confusingly written, but so is the English dub, and neither really correspond to each other, so it's kind of Sophie's Choice on that one.’
    • ‘It aired on Tuesday nights, which already featured two of my still-favourite shows, and I was already having a hard time making a Sophie's Choice between them.’
    • ‘That would then entail a kind of Sophie's choice situation where you have to decide what bills you can pay.’
    • ‘Home theater typically offers a Sophie's Choice: discrete looks, or big sound.’
    • ‘Those products force the user to make the PC equivalent of Sophie's Choice: do you sacrifice the keyboard for greater portability, or do you keep it and just accept your laptop will always be bulkier than a tablet?’
    • ‘Expect to see the show embrace the new lack of time constraints that used to force the show to make, as "a Sophie's Choice" to cut scenes down to a standard 21-minute episode.’
    • ‘It would be a Sophie's Choice to only pick one of them.’
    • ‘The phone network is going to present you with the Sophie's Choice of smartphones: unlimited data or a subsidized phone, but you can't have both.’
    • ‘She plays the lead singer in a cover band who faced a difficult decision 20 years earlier—a kind of Sophie's Choice between her obligations as a married mother of three and rock & roll.’
    • ‘Sometimes you have to make a Sophie's choice about where to invest your limited resources.’
    • ‘It's a real Sophie's Choice when asked to select a Fleetwood Mac song that holds a special place in my heart, because so many of them do.’
    • ‘There were several instances where major television shows were scheduled opposite one another, creating the ultimate TV Sophie's Choice.’
    • ‘Her mentor was put in a tough spot during the show, having to make a "Sophie's choice" in sending home either Garcia or her teammate Paige.’

Origin

With allusion to the 1979 novel Sophie's Choice by William Styron (1925–2006), in which a mother arriving at the Auschwitz concentration camp is forced to choose which of her two children is to be killed; failure to make a choice will result in the death of both children.