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1520s, from Late Latin dilemma, from Greek dilemma "double proposition," a technical term in rhetoric, from di- "two" + lemma "premise, anything received or taken," from root of lambanein "to take" (see analemma). It should be used only of situations where someone is forced to choose between two alternatives, both unfavorable to him. But even logicians disagree on whether certain situations are dilemmas or mere syllogisms.
in syllogistic, or traditional, logic, any one of several forms of inference in which there are two major premises of hypothetical form and a disjunctive ("either . . . or") minor premise. For example: