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dilemma
2014/03/17
6:29pm
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deaconB
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In discussing the spelling of dilemma, I’m surprised that there was no discussion of the misuse of the word.

A dilemma presents one with precisely two alternatives.   It’s a lemma of two horns.   There’s also the word trilemma, if that’s what you need.

If you google dilemma, you are presented with a definition that says two or more.   I don’t think this jibes with the “don’t be evil” mission statement for the company…

Or is it too late?   Is dilemma spoilt, just as literally is?

2014/03/17
8:32pm
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Dick
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Haven’t you ever heard the old saying, “on the horns of a dilemma”?

2014/03/18
12:03am
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Robert
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deaconB said
…too late?   Is dilemma spoilt …

If by that you are referring to the misuse concerning two vs more than two, then “way gone” is more like it from what I see, because from all I hear (and read) nowadays, all it means is “tough problem” or “predicament.”

What annoys me no ends is why don’t they just say “problem” already? Why say “dilemma” ?!!!

By the way, the spelling “dilemna” probably was hyper-spellcheck   to compensate for when one failed with column, alumni, damn, etc.

2014/03/19
2:16pm
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Glenn
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I never heard of the dilemna spelling till the podcast. Google books shows lots of examples of dilemna starting in 1904 with the first examples appearing in New York State Supreme Court documents. The Corpus of Contemporary American English also shows 3 examples, including one dating to 1993 from USA Today. Who knew!

2014/03/29
2:15pm
Oliver Faltz
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I don’t know how tangential we’re allowed to get here, being the new guy. The late, great Frank Zappa wrote, in a © lyric, “I got a big dilemma about my big leg Emma, uh-huh. She was my steady date until she put on weight, uh-huh.”

2014/03/29
3:25pm
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Robert
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I can imagine 2 conflicting choices alright : leave her for a skinny gal, or keep her (because he still wants her) and put up with her fat legs.

But Mr. Zappa’s interest is just as soon the word play, bi-le-em-ma