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

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 Compounded by the expectation that Black women are expected to ceaselessly perform labor for society’s comfort or entertainment, famous athletes like Osaka and the Williams sisters are in a double bind due to their notoriety and talent. SELF, 8 May 2022 This double bind can be a cause for friction yet is avoidable. Dr. Ruth Gotian, Forbes, 21 Sep. 2021 Two statements that represent a terrific double bind—a rope thrown by one black woman to constrict another, that surely ends up constricting them both. Zadie Smith, The New York Review of Books, 27 Feb. 2020 Shaving is somewhat of a double bind for trans girls. Sessi Kuwabara Blanchard, Allure, 30 June 2021 Febos added that the likeability trap places girls in a double bind where they are expected to manage their reputation and maintain purity, yet please everyone. Kyv Editorial Staff, NBC News, 25 May 2021 Bradley proves herself sensitive to the double bind of addiction and incarceration throughout her documentary, which follows Sibil Fox Richardson’s efforts to free her husband from prison. Jonathan W. Gray, The New Republic, 21 Apr. 2021 The double bind deepens when Dana learns that this survival depends on Rufus’s enslavement and rape of a free Black woman named Alice. Julian Lucas, The New Yorker, 8 Mar. 2021 Several in the Santiam district spoke to The Oregonian/OregonLive about what’s become a catchphrase of the double bind -- the new abnormal. oregonlive, 20 Oct. 2020 See More

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.

First Known Use of double bind

1956, in the meaning defined above

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Time Traveler for double bind

Time Traveler

The first known use of double bind was in 1956

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Dictionary Entries Near double bind

double bill

double bind

double-bit ax

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Statistics for double bind

Last Updated

13 May 2022

Cite this Entry

“Double bind.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 25 May. 2022.

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More Definitions for double bind

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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