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#100073 - 04/04/03 11:26 AM if given a choice...
guest Offline
stranger

Registered: 04/04/03
Posts: 19
is there a term for a situation where a person is given an ostensibly equal choice between two alternatives but if the person is unable or unwilling to make a decision, the decision defaults to one or the other? a simple example would be if someone were at a train station, trying to decide whether to hop on and head to a destination or remain in town. if the train leaves before the person has made the choice, then the decision has been effected for him without any proactive effort on his part.

the opposite would be a choice such as whether to order one meal or another, and hesitating so long as to cause the waiter to slip away without anything having been ordered; in this case there is no forced decision.

i'm not speaking of hobson's choice; my query doesn't necessarily refer only to when neither choice is palatable, although it could encompass that scenario as well.



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#100074 - 04/04/03 11:54 AM Re: if given a choice...
wwh Offline
Carpal Tunnel

Registered: 01/18/01
Posts: 13858
The word "dilemmma" is used for a situtation where a difficult choice must be made. Not sure it fits your requirements.



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#100075 - 04/04/03 12:13 PM Re: if given a choice...
Wordwind Offline
Carpal Tunnel

Registered: 09/30/01
Posts: 6296
Loc: Piedmont Region of Virginia, U...
[smart aleck comment coming; disregard if you're not in the mood]

Dilemmma, wwh? Is that the situation in which you have three choices, none of which has a desirable outcommme?


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#100076 - 04/04/03 12:40 PM Re: if given a choice...
wwh Offline
Carpal Tunnel

Registered: 01/18/01
Posts: 13858
Dear WW: Easy. Trilemma. Not even my coinage. Lots of sites using it.
But I haven't found a good adjective to go with "dilemma"
to indicate it being self-limiting. "Fugax" means of very short duration, but I'm not sure of gender agreement.


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#100077 - 04/04/03 01:16 PM Re: trilemma
Wordwind Offline
Carpal Tunnel

Registered: 09/30/01
Posts: 6296
Loc: Piedmont Region of Virginia, U...
1. (Logic) A syllogism with three conditional propositions, the major premises of which are disjunctively affirmed in the minor. See Dilemma.~Dictionary.com "Disjunctively affirmed in the minor"--what the hell does that mean?

Sorry, Guest, that we haven't found the term for which you're looking. Somebody here will hit upon it eventually.


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#100078 - 04/04/03 01:16 PM Re: if given a choice...
wwh Offline
Carpal Tunnel

Registered: 01/18/01
Posts: 13858
While trying to think of a word or phrase that would fit our welcome "guest" 's request, I encountered in spellingbee list
word "holophrastic" defined as "expressing a complex of ideas in a single word". T think the example the Scripps-Howard people gave is very dubious:
"Holophrastic utternaces are one of the first stages in childrens's acquistion of speech."

Let's get back to "guest"'s request. Ephemeral means of short duration, but not short enough. He wants "Take it or leave it" in one word if possible. I think it will have to be a short phrase.


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#100079 - 04/04/03 01:51 PM Re: trilemma<tetralemma
Wordwind Offline
Carpal Tunnel

Registered: 09/30/01
Posts: 6296
Loc: Piedmont Region of Virginia, U...
Just for the record:

tetralemma quandary with four alternatives


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#100080 - 04/04/03 02:01 PM Re: if given a choice...
maahey Offline
addict

Registered: 12/03/02
Posts: 555
Hello Guest!!
a situation where a person is given an ostensibly equal choice between two alternatives but if the person is unable or unwilling to make a decision

At home, such a state or a person in this state, is called, A Hamlet.

Apart from our Shakespearean liberties, I like both wwh's dilemma and WW's quandary. Both these words seem apt for the state such as you describe.




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#100081 - 04/04/03 02:14 PM Re: if given a choice...
Wordwind Offline
Carpal Tunnel

Registered: 09/30/01
Posts: 6296
Loc: Piedmont Region of Virginia, U...
I don't think dilemma works exactly since outcomes of a dilemma are supposedly unwanted. Guest seems to be posing that situation in which it's not so much the choices that are the problem, but the chooser who has the problem. The chooser could be in a quandary, but I don't think the chooser necessarily has a dilemma before him since the choices could both have agreeable outcomes.

Guest, could you expound a bit further?


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#100082 - 04/04/03 04:46 PM Re: if given a choice...
of troy Offline
Carpal Tunnel

Registered: 10/17/00
Posts: 5400
Loc: rego park
I would say they made a decision by default...

in the train example, if they do nothing, (that is they don't get on the train) the default is staying in town...

and if they were on the train, and thinking about getting off a stop before their normal station to go shopping, or to visist a friend, and let the train stop, and didn't get off, again the decision is one of default... they did nothing to change the status....

lots of decisions are made by default... people are often dissatisfied with their job, or their spouse, or their homes or apartments... but changing requires them to do something, to make some sort of effort... they decide not to make any special effort and nothing changes...

sometimes they get divorced by default... if one spouse wants a change,and starts divorce proceeding, and the other doesn't take any action, they are likely to find themselved divorced--by default.



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