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 English Idioms and Idiomatic Expressions 


Idioms relating to choices, options and alternatives  
from:  'about turn'   to:  'horns of a dilemma'

  • about turn / about face
    • The terms 'about turn' or 'about face' refer to a complete change of opinion or policy.
      "The ambassador's recent declarations indicate an about turn in foreign policy."

  • any port in a storm
    • When you have no choice, any port in a storm refers to a solution you accept, which in normal circumstances you would find unacceptable.
      "The hotel was substandard, but it was a case of any port in a storm; all the others were full."

  • argue the toss
    • If you argue the toss, you dispute a decision or choice which has already been made.
      "The final choice was made yesterday, so don't argue the toss now!"

  • between the devil and the deep blue sea
    • If you are between the devil and the deep blue sea, you are in a situation where there are two equally unpleasant alternatives.
      "When the new product didn't take off, the management was caught between the devil and the deep blue sea: develop a new marketing campaign or drop the product."

  • as broad as it's long
    • This expression means that there is no real difference which alternative is chosen.
      "Take the high-speed train, or fly and take a taxi? It's as broad as it's long."

  • catch 22
    • A catch 22 situation refers to a frustrating situation where you cannot do one thing without doing a second, and you cannot do the second before doing the first.
      "I can't get a job without a work permit, and I can't get a work permit without a job. It's a catch 22 situation!"

  • change your mind
    • If you change your mind you change your original opinion, plan or choice.
      "At first I intended to rent a car, but then I changed my mind and decided to use public transport."

  • cherry pick
    • When you cherry pick, you choose something with great care and select only the best.
      "Top university graduates are often cherry-picked by large companies."

  • different strokes for different folks
    • This expression means that each individual has their own tastes and requirements. What suits one person may not suit another.
      "Alison really enjoys gardening, whereas Julie finds it a chore. Different strokes for different folks!"

  • embarrassment of riches
    • When there is much more of something than necessary, and it is difficult to make a choice, you have an embarrassment of riches.
      "Our hosts presented us with an embarrassment of riches. There was so much food that we didn't know where to start!"

  • fait accompli
    • This French expression refers to something that has been done and cannot be changed.
      "He used his savings to buy a motorbike and then presented his parents with a fait accompli."

  • on the fence
    • When faced with a choice, a person who is on the fence has not yet reached a decision.
      "The candidates have such similar ideas that many electors are still on the fence."

  • hedge your bets
    • If you hedge your bets, you choose two or more courses of action in order to reduce the risk of loss or error.
      "The company hedged its bets by developing a second line of products."

  • horns of a dilemma
    • If you are on the horns of a dilemma, you are faced with a choice between two equally unpleasant options.
      "I'm on the horns of a dilemma; I have to choose between a boring job with a good salary or a more interesting job with a lower salary."

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