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Between a rock and a hard place

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  • Caught between a rock and a hard place means being faced with a dilemma that only affords a choice between two unpleasant alternatives. The phrase originated in America in the early 1900s to describe a dispute between copper miners and the mining companies in Bisbee, Arizona. The miners demanded better working conditions, which the companies refused to supply. That left the miners with two unpleasant choices: continue to mine in the same terrible conditions (a rock), or face unemployment and poverty (a hard place).  The phrase came into popular use during The Great Depression of the 1930s, as many citizens found themselves caught between a rock and a hard place. An alternative phrase is stuck between a rock and a hard place, the meaning is the same.

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    Examples

    FF leader finds himself between a rock and a hard place with the election looming (The Independent)

    The Rams’ move to Los Angeles has put the Chargers between a rock and a hard place (The Business INsider)

    “We are a little bit between a rock and a hard place, in having identified a place that we think is viable, without being able to say it’s definite,” Ms. Tarlow said, arguing the Council would have to approve the legislation before the location could become official and the process of contracting and construction could start. (The Observer)

    “We’re kind of stuck between a rock and a hard place. We can’t discriminate between what’s religious and what’s not religious,” Shockley said. (The Daily Sentinel)

    With financial pressures continuing to mount councillors seem to be caught between a rock and a hard place in this recent round of budget cuts, and there has been a call for the Scottish Government to introduce a 1p increase on income tax to alleviate the overwhelming cuts facing local authorities in Scotland. (Stornoway Gazette)

     

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