What does the idiom "be in a quandary" mean?

You are wondering about the meaning of the phrase be in a quandary, maybe you heard it in a TV show, movie or theater play. Although this idiom is not used very often, it enriches your capacity of expression and strengthens communication. In which case is the expression be in a quandary used and what is its meaning?

Meaning of "be in a quandary"


The idiom ‘be in a quandary’ refers to a state of confusion, doubt, or uncertainty about one’s options in a particular situation. It implies that an individual is unsure about how to react or what choice to make.


The phrase ‘be in a quandary’ has its roots in the Latin words ‘quam’ and ‘darium’, which mean ‘which to do’. This phrase was first recorded in English in the early 1500s and gradually came to be used as an idiom in the 1800s.


The phrase ‘be in a quandary’ is mainly used when talking about some difficult or complex choices that a person has to make. It can be used to refer to the mental state of somebody who does not know what to do in a certain situation. It is also used to indicate the state of someone who feels completely clueless and unable to move forward in a certain situation.

Example Sentences

  • I'm in a complete quandary about whether to go for the job or not.
  • She was in a quandary about how to make up her mind.
  • We were all in a quandary as to which path to take.

The meanings of the words in the "be in a quandary" idiom

From One Language to Another: Idioms in Translation

Translating idioms from one language to another can be a tricky task, as the cultural context behind an idiom can be difficult to capture. For example, the French phrase "avoir le cafard" translates to "to have the cockroach," which means to feel down or depressed. Similarly, the Chinese idiom "????" (j?ng d? zh? w?) translates to "frog at the bottom of a well," which refers to someone with a narrow view of the world.


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