Is there a euphemism for, within a given scenario, the fundamental conflict between two things? Almost akin to 'double-edged sword'. But that would not be right. I can clarify more. Open to any thoughts.

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    If you can clarify more, than you should clarify more. Questions with more information, background, and context are generally more appreciated. More importantly, others are less likely to put a lot of thought and time into answers that are ultimately unhelpful to you, because they were going down the wrong track.
    – J.R.
    Commented Oct 30, 2013 at 10:35

4 Answers 4


There are numerous possible euphemisms and metaphors for the situation you describe, but which would suit is very context dependent.

Some possibilities are:

  • irresistible force meeting an immovable object
  • irreconcilable differences
  • caught between Scylla and Charbydis
  • oil and water
  • cats and dogs
  • fire and ice
  • polar opposites
  • mortal enemies

And, in the US, there is always



Caught between a rock and a hard place.

Is a good euphemism for when you're stuck in a situation or conflict where resolution is difficult to see; & the outcome well frankly just stinks.

I thought of a couple more: stuck between the devil and the deep blue sea got myself in a real catch-22 here

Hope they help :-)


The euphemism applicable is "Equilibrium".

Equilibrium is achieved when two or more competing or conflicting forces come to an involuntary lock where the forces balance each other out.

A dynamic equilibrium is when active conflicts are ongoing with constant loss and gain of ground.

For example,

Godfather to lieutenants of two of his conflicting factions:
So, what have you both achieved in your disagreements?

Gang lieutenant:
We have come to an equilibrium.

You meant that your losses balance his losses in the number of men dead and maimed?

The other euphemism applicable is "evolutionary pressure". Evolution can be perceived as a process where the most matchable and adaptable to an environment survives. It is then seen as a conflict between producing superior species at the cost of elimination of others.

Yet another applicable euphemism is "Symbiotic relationship". Rather than saying

They are feeding off each other.

We could say,

Their conflict is a symbiotic relationship.

Combining the three, we could say,

The gangs are in a symbiotic relationship. Their conflicts present evolutionary pressure to improve their ranks by mutually helping each other cull off the weak members. It is the perfect pyramid scheme where equilibrium is attained, resulting in the advantage of having contributors who would no longer be around to clamour for a return of their investment.


I think 'antipathy' is the word you may be looking for.

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