quan·​da·​ry | \ˈkwän-d(ə-)rē \
plural quandaries

Definition of quandary 

: a state of perplexity or doubt

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Synonyms for quandary


catch-22, dilemma, double bind

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Examples of quandary in a Sentence

Williams's quandary is not unlike that faced by other urban executives who have had to wrestle with a deeply rooted power structure. The problem is especially acute for African American mayors. They are expected to serve as sentries, protecting their cities' black communities and staving off so-called white encroachment. — Jonetta Rose Barras, Washington Post, 15 June 2003 For a sticky philosophical quandary, the questions are pretty simple: am I a clerk charged with selling college degrees or am I involved in a more meaningful experience? Part of me says that no argument is more worthy of my attention. — Lynne Drury Lerych, Newsweek, 9 Apr. 2001 … the inevitable economic quandary that faces a people in the transition from slavery to freedom, and especially those who make that change amid hate and prejudice, lawlessness and ruthless competition. — W. E. B. Du Bois, The Souls of Black Folk, 1903 The unexpected results of the test have created a quandary for researchers. I'm in a quandary about whether I should try to repair my stereo or buy a new one, even though I don't have the money to do either.
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Recent Examples on the Web

The rates pose an unexpected quandary for both parties in the final sprint to the November midterm elections. Anna Wilde Mathews, WSJ, "Price of Obamacare Insurance Plans Takes Surprise Drop," 11 Oct. 2018 But the bizarre incident creates a quandary for experts who analyze the security of U.S. airports: Is there anything more that can be done to prevent credentialed workers from taking such an unpredictable action? Mike Baker, The Seattle Times, "Sea-Tac officials, airlines to meet Monday to discuss security protocols after turboprop heist," 13 Aug. 2018 The emerging private label threat from Amazon presents a quandary for small vendors and big, national brands alike. New York Times, "Amazon, the Brand Buster," 23 June 2018 Huguette's insistence on playing a geriatric Eloise-at-Doctors-Hospital raised another quandary for the administrators. Meryl Gordon, Town & Country, "The Curious Life and Shocking Death of Huguette Clark," 21 May 2014 At the time, Scandal was one of the only series (particularly in the procedural genre) to explore such high-stakes moral quandaries for black women. Tanisha C. Ford, The Atlantic, "The Episode That Captured the Best and Worst of Scandal," 19 Apr. 2018 In Russia, there has been no time to worry about those theoretical quandaries. Rory Smith, New York Times, "The Google Translate World Cup," 13 July 2018 Here's my in-depth post today fully explaining the Heat's salary cap predicament, when and how Miami can bid for top free agents again, and what the Heat is trying to do about this quandary. Barry Jackson, miamiherald, "Heat signs a sharp-shooter who has impressed everyone this summer," 10 July 2018 But many of its inhabitants have begun to leave, and those who remain face an existential quandary: with their fleet’s original purpose fulfilled, what comes next? Andrew Liptak, The Verge, "12 fantastic science fiction and fantasy novels that you should check out this July," 1 July 2018

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'quandary.' 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 quandary

1579, in the meaning defined above

History and Etymology for quandary

origin unknown

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Statistics for quandary

Last Updated

25 Nov 2018

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for quandary

The first known use of quandary was in 1579

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More Definitions for quandary



English Language Learners Definition of quandary

: a situation in which you are confused about what to do


quan·​da·​ry | \ˈkwän-də-rē, -drē\
plural quandaries

Kids Definition of quandary

: a state of doubt or confusion I was in a quandary about what to do.

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More from Merriam-Webster on quandary

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for quandary

Spanish Central: Translation of quandary

Nglish: Translation of quandary for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of quandary for Arabic Speakers

Comments on quandary

What made you want to look up quandary? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


to move with a clumsy heavy tread

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