double bind


Definition of double bind

: a psychological predicament in which a person receives from a single source conflicting messages that allow no appropriate response to be made broadly : dilemma sense 1

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Synonyms for double bind


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Examples of double bind in a Sentence

the double bind faced by every politician: responding to scurrilous charges only gives them unwarranted publicity; not responding to such charges is often interpreted as an admission of guilt
Recent Examples on the Web Several in the Santiam district spoke to The Oregonian/OregonLive about what’s become a catchphrase of the double bind -- the new abnormal. oregonlive, "Oregon wildfires heap emotional trauma on children already suffering from coronavirus pandemic," 20 Oct. 2020 The masochistic double bind is a malign version of the narrator’s problem. Anne Enright, The New York Review of Books, "Wanting Wrong," 6 July 2020 Daytrien Wilken, the spokeswoman for the group, whose uncle is among the workers, says sanitation workers are in a double bind: their work is especially valuable in preventing the spread of coronavirus, yet they are made more vulnerable. Sidney Fussell, Wired, "As Businesses Reopen, Some Workers Fear Returning," 5 June 2020 Two scoops of challenges King Cone, an ice cream shop in Plover, Wisconsin Rapids and Amherst, is in something of a double bind right now because of the coronavirus. Daniel Higgins, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, "'Won’t look the same for a long time, if ever': Restaurants try to find the recipe for reopening, or not," 28 May 2020 That Bassett was in the makeup chair when Matthews made the inappropriate comments highlights the double binds facing women. Alia E. Dastagir, USA TODAY, "Chris Matthews and the confusion about paying women 'compliments'," 3 Mar. 2020 This combination — an erratic and impeachment-threatened Republican president, and his increasingly radical Democratic opponents — puts U.S. business in a double bind. Karl Smith,, "Trump’s impeachment is already hurting the economy," 2 Oct. 2019 Gould said there was a double bind: the organization actually could not negotiate earnings and benefits, since those are already set by the statute creating the organization. Carolyn Said,, "Uber circulates new gig-work bill as alternative to AB5," 9 Sep. 2019 While broadcast and voice technologies have significantly progressed during the last century, even the most up-to-date media formats still have yet to solve many of the double binds in which those with higher voices may find themselves. Tina Tallon, The New Yorker, "A Century of “Shrill”: How Bias in Technology Has Hurt Women’s Voices," 3 Sep. 2019

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'double bind.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

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First Known Use of double bind

1956, in the meaning defined above

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Time Traveler for double bind

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The first known use of double bind was in 1956

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Cite this Entry

“Double bind.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 27 Feb. 2021.

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More Definitions for double bind

double bind


English Language Learners Definition of double bind

: a very difficult situation that has no good solution

double bind

dou·​ble bind | \ ˈdəb-əl-ˈbīnd How to pronounce double bind (audio) \

Medical Definition of double bind

: a psychological predicament in which a person receives from a single source conflicting messages that allow no appropriate response to be made

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