Caught between two stools


      • Indecision or difficulty in making a choice between two options.
        Used to describe a situation where a person is faced with two equally appealing or unappealing choices and is unable to decide which one to choose.

      • Unable to commit to a specific course of action.
        Often used to describe a person who is hesitant or unsure about making a decision, causing them to be stuck in a state of inaction or uncertainty.

      • Receiving the negative consequences of indecision or inaction.
        When a person is caught between two stools, they may end up facing negative outcomes or consequences as a result of not being able to make a clear decision or take action.

    Examples of Caught between two stools

    • John was caught between two stools when his boss asked him to work overtime and his wife requested him to attend their child's school play.

      The idiom "caught between two stools" means being in a difficult situation where one has to choose between two equally undesirable options. In this example, John is faced with a dilemma as he is unable to fulfill both his work and family commitments simultaneously. This idiom is used to convey the idea of being stuck in a tricky position where one cannot avoid either of the two choices.


    Overall, the idiom "caught between two stools" refers to a state of being stuck or unable to make a decision between two options. It can also imply a sense of indecisiveness or hesitation, leading to negative consequences.

    Origin of "Caught between two stools"

    The origin of this idiom can be traced back to ancient Greece, where it was used in the writings of philosopher Aristotle. In his book "Politics," he used the phrase "sitting on two stools" to describe a state of indecision and instability in political matters.

    Over time, this phrase evolved into the more commonly used idiom "caught between two stools." It became popular in the English language in the 19th century and has since been used in various contexts to describe indecision and its consequences.

    Some believe that the idiom may also have originated from an old European saying that warned against sitting on two stools at once, as it could lead to falling and getting hurt. This physical metaphor can be applied to the mental state of being caught between two options and facing negative consequences as a result.