Quandary refers to a state of uncertainty or confusion, typically arising from a difficult or thorny situation in which one is unsure about what decision or course of action to take.


US English

UK English

Part of Speech



predicament, dilemma, difficulty, conundrum, perplexity, impasse, uncertainty, dilemma, puzzle, problem


certainty, solution, clarity, resolution, confidence

Word Forms

Part of Speech Words
Noun quandary, quandaries
Verb None
Adjective None
Adverb None

Example Sentences

  • After receiving acceptance letters from both universities, she found herself in a quandary about which one to choose for her higher studies.

  • The politician faced a quandary when confronted with conflicting promises he had made to different groups during his campaign.

  • The team’s coach was in a quandary as two of his star players were injured right before the championship match.

  • Sarah’s financial quandary deepened when she lost her job and couldn’t decide whether to dip into her savings or search for a new job first.


The word “quandary” has an interesting history and usage that sheds light on its meaning and origins. The term “quandary” originated in late Middle English and can be traced back to the Latin word “quandarium,” which means “doubt” or “difficulty.” The suffix “-ary” in “quandary” is derived from the Latin suffix “-arius,” indicating something pertaining to or connected with.

“Quandary” is used to describe a state of uncertainty or confusion, particularly a situation where one is faced with a difficult decision or problem. It refers to being in a predicament or dilemma, where one is unsure about the best course of action or solution. The usage of “quandary” implies a certain level of perplexity or bewilderment.

The term “quandary” is commonly used in both spoken and written English. It is often employed in various contexts, including personal, professional, and academic settings. People use it to describe situations where they feel stuck or indecisive, grappling with opposing choices or conflicting circumstances. For example, a student may find themselves in a quandary when they have to choose between two equally appealing internship offers, or a business owner may face a quandary when deciding whether to downsize the workforce or seek alternative strategies during a financial crisis.

The root meaning of “quandary” suggests a sense of doubt and difficulty, captured well in its definition. The prefix “qu-” adds emphasis to the word, intensifying the state of uncertainty or confusion. The usage of “quandary” thus provides a concise and evocative way to describe navigating complex or challenging circumstances. It aptly conveys the sense of being torn between options or grappling with a problem that lacks a clear or straightforward solution.