I am looking for expressions that mean "to decide between two good options." For example, you have to choose between getting a car that you like or a super car that's very expensive but you are not sure if you like it.

I searched on Google and there are some phrases that mean to make decision between two unpleasant options so, I am not sure if there such an expression in English or not.

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    If you take forever, you're a Buridan's ass. – RegDwigнt Nov 27 '13 at 14:56
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    "A super car that's very expensive but you are not sure if you like it" - it's not clear how this is a good option. Are you looking for an idiom that means making a decision between two potentially good options but you're not sure whether they're actually good? – LarsH Nov 27 '13 at 19:06
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    @LarsH I think they're getting the car for free. In that sense, expensive is a good thing, while he may not like it. On the other hand, the cheap car is a waste because he's getting it free, but he knows he likes it – Cruncher Nov 27 '13 at 19:12
  • A closely related phrase is the economic concept of "opportunity cost". – Ryan C. Thompson Nov 28 '13 at 0:43

15 Answers 15


Not quite the noun you are after, but another way to express the situation is to say that you are spoilt for choice

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    Apparently a British idiom; not common in the US. – mgkrebbs Nov 27 '13 at 18:59
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    I know the idiom well, but still sounds like you do not need to choose – mplungjan Nov 27 '13 at 21:25
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    spoiled for choice is the American version. – The English Chicken Nov 27 '13 at 21:50
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    I've never heard or seen it, no matter which way you spell it. – Tyler James Young Dec 3 '13 at 20:43
  • Ngram has both version rapidly gaining in popularity since around 1970. books.google.com/ngrams/… – Phil M Jones Dec 4 '13 at 8:51

This is an approach-approach conflict:


a psychological conflict that results when a choice must be made between two desirable alternatives

Best illustrated by Rebecca Black:


Front seat or back seat? Which one should I take?

As you note, the more common conflict is the "avoid-avoid conflict" where you must choose the less bad of two bad alternatives, and the "approach-avoid conflict", where there are simultaneously good and bad aspects to the conflict.

The psychological condition of having too many good alternatives to choose from and no ability to decide which is best so you choose none of them is option block, coined by Douglas Coupland in the novel "Microserfs", though that doesn't seem to have caught on. Overchoice is another option, coined in 1970:


When confronted with a plethora of choices without perfect information, many people prefer to make no choice at all, even if making a choice would lead to a better outcome.

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    Sounds like a winner although I have never heard of it – mplungjan Nov 27 '13 at 21:26
  • Your killing me +1 for Rebecca Black reference. – Nathaniel Johnson Nov 28 '13 at 0:56
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    @Emmentaler: We so excited! – Eric Lippert Nov 28 '13 at 0:58
  • I would argue that 'approach-approach conflict' is an idiom, and that overchoice is too ambiguous to apply. – Charles Goodwin Nov 28 '13 at 15:06

How about an embarrassment of riches?

  • In a similar vein, The rich get richer. – Michael O'Neill Nov 27 '13 at 19:02
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    Also sounds like you do not need to choose – mplungjan Nov 27 '13 at 21:25

A win-win situation comes to mind


(of a situation or outcome) That benefits both or all parties, or that has two distinct benefits.

That said, you do not choose one of them but get both.

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    No, that refers to two people both winning from a single agreement between them. – mgkrebbs Nov 27 '13 at 19:00
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    That is not true. It does not have to be an agreement between people. If I sell something that takes up too much room and I get a good price, I get more space and have cash. That is also a win-win situation – mplungjan Nov 27 '13 at 19:51
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    I think the O.P. is describing something that's more like a no-lose situation, which is not quite synonymous with win-win. (It's hard to say for sure, though, because I find the car example a little confusing.) – J.R. Nov 27 '13 at 21:25
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    mplungjan: while you’re right that it needn’t be just an agreement between people, I think @mjkrebbs is right that win-win situation doesn’t fit this question. A win-win situation is where some single option is good in multiple ways (especially, in ways that one might have expected to be in conflict). This question asks for something where multiple options are under consideration. – PLL Nov 27 '13 at 23:14
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    A win-win situation is one in which a single choice provides multiple benefits. It is not a dilemma between two good choices. If the choices turn out not to be mutually exclusive then it can be a win-win situation. – Kaz Nov 28 '13 at 15:54

How about a delightful dilemma?


I've heard (and used) the phrase "positive dilemma". Some may say this is an oxymoron, as a dilemma is by definition between two negative options. But while the word dilemma is especially used to describe multiple undesirable choices, it can simply be a choice between multiple options or a difficult problem. (Source.)

I also like the phrase "to be faced with a wealth of options", although perhaps this isn't specific enough.

Because of the use of "win-win" in game theory, I'd suggest this implies something that's positive for multiple people, rather than a choice with multiple positive options, although I'm sure anyone would understand what you mean.

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    I see no reason to load the dilemma with negative connotation. I also read merriam-webster.com: Buridan's ass is a hypothetical **dilemma** in which a person is postulated as presented with **two equally attractive and attainable alternatives** and therefore loses freedom of choice – Val Nov 27 '13 at 23:03

It makes me think of "First World problems," although that may not be specific as you want. Related to that is the possibly offensive and probably only applicable in the US "white people problems."

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    The thing about a first world problem though is that it is a legitimate problem. Not being able to find a nearby parking spot when going to the opera is a first world problem, but it's still a problem. – Eric Lippert Nov 27 '13 at 18:46
  • @EricLippert, if thats the case then I see it get misused alot. – user606723 Nov 27 '13 at 19:39
  • “Champagne problems” means the same without potential offense. – Tyler James Young Dec 3 '13 at 20:45

I'm surprised that we haven't seen this one:

Six of one, and a half dozen of the other

Refers to there being a choice between two alternatives, and the choice doesn't really matter.


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    Not really a choice. It's more like apportion of blame. A typical example is a squabble between 2 parties, and the adjudicator declares it is six of one and half a dozen of the other (e.g. a mother to her sons). – Charles Goodwin Nov 28 '13 at 14:48
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    That's one use, however it is also used with respect to two choices that are functionally similar – C dawg Nov 28 '13 at 15:20
  • Your citing a source that cites a book that doesn't cite any actual source*. This could just be 1 person's interpretation of this idiom. If you could quote something more official? * amazon.com/review/RM4TTH74NNYAV/… – Charles Goodwin Nov 29 '13 at 12:11
  • This expression is widely used in the U.S. (by my generation, anyway), but its point is the functional similarity of the options, to pick up C dawg's expression. Both options might be positive, both might be negative, both might be so-so. – Joan Pederson Dec 3 '13 at 22:23

How about "there are no wrong choices".


A "no-lose decision" seems much closer than some other suggestions.


You might be looking for the phrase

analysis paralysis


the paradox of choice

both of which are drawn from psycholgy rather than common idiomatic English. Both colorfully describe the experience of impaired decision-making when presented with too many good options.

Analysis paralysis is an unwillingness to commit to a course of action without being totally certain that you're making the best choice.

The paradox of choice refers to decreased satisfaction dervied from a given choice in the face of a large number of alternatives.

Related terms are decision fatigue, ego depletion, and choice proliferation.


How about "decide the bestest between two bests" as opposed to "choosing lesser evil between two evils"? In Japanese, we say -どっちに転んでも損しない - You don't lose whichever side you tumble down.


Best way to express it is " It's a hard one to call "


Suppose you have the two good choices - pick up the red pen or the blue pen. You equally love both, but problem is you have the option to choose any one of them. I will say it this way - "I am torn between the red and blue one, and hence I'm unsure what to go for as I love the red one, and the blue one for that matter."

This is just my idea. Though it's not a idiom. But just a thought to share with. Comments please.


How about

It's safe to say that I'm between thighs on that one.

Seems legitimate.

  • Can you provide a source for that expression or cite examples? I've never heard that one . . . – Kristina Lopez Nov 27 '13 at 16:26
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    You got that right, Mr_Spock, except the OP is looking for an idiom, not a neologism. Also, it helps if your neologism is universally understood, which the hanger comment is not, babe. ;-) +1 for the "toots", I like that! – Kristina Lopez Nov 27 '13 at 18:16
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    @KristinaLopez You want a neologism that is likely to be understood: how about "stuck between a pillow and a soft place". – Kaz Nov 27 '13 at 19:21
  • I got that one @Kaz, and the one about the thighs, too. ;-) It was the hanger comment that confused me, unless Mr_Spock was implying I am a stuffed shirt. – Kristina Lopez Nov 27 '13 at 19:33
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    @KristinaLopez Between thighs is quite illogical. When you're between thighs, you aren't vaccillating between which thigh you choose; you're single-mindedly going for the middle. – Kaz Nov 28 '13 at 3:46

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