Is there a word or short phrase that describes two contrasting ideas the ultimately end up the same? Like two ends of a spectrum that can wrap around? I'm using it to describe two foils for a character that ultimately end up being in the same boat.

This could also refer to examples such as Fascism and Communism, where the ends are very similar, but all other aspects are entirely different.

  • Are you thinking in a fated or predictable way? Commented Feb 9, 2014 at 23:21
  • @stevemarvell Maybe, but more cautionary. What word did you have in mind?
    – Hovestar
    Commented Feb 9, 2014 at 23:22
  • I would conjure a phrase using "inevitable" for predictability, "inescapable" if there might be an attempt to avoid the predicted future or "doomed to" if the future were considered negative. Commented Feb 9, 2014 at 23:44
  • maybe twin dangers?
    – virmaior
    Commented Feb 10, 2014 at 1:04
  • I decided to use ends of a spectrum, hoping that they get the idea of a spectrum wrapping around.
    – Hovestar
    Commented Feb 10, 2014 at 2:29

4 Answers 4


Probably the most common idiomatic usage for OP's context is

two sides of the same coin

The Cambridge Dictionaries Online definition is...

If two things are two sides of the same coin, they are very closely related although they seem different

But personally I prefer this one from Yahoo Answers...

It means that the same person or subject or idea can be viewed two different ways.
[emphasis mine]

In OP's specific example, several hundred writers have in fact made the point that Fascism and Communism are two sides of the same coin. They mean both are oppressive/totalitarian regimes. Much the same idea is eloquently put by George Orwell in the closing words of Animal Farm...

“The creatures outside looked from pig to man, and from man to pig, and from pig to man again; but already it was impossible to say which was which.”


There is a "figure of speech" that may fit:

I'm damned if I do and damned if I don't.

There is Catch-22 also:

(idiomatic) A difficult situation from which there is no escape because it involves mutually conflicting or dependent conditions.

  • I would up-vote but I don't have enough reputation.
    – Hovestar
    Commented Feb 10, 2014 at 2:29

One phrase that expresses this:

a rock and a hard place.

Or to make a general statement:

All roads lead to ...

For instance, no matter how governments begin all roads lead to debt and dissipation.

  • I would up-vote but I don't have enough reputation.
    – Hovestar
    Commented Feb 10, 2014 at 2:30

Juxtaposition "noun : the fact of two things being seen or placed close together with contrasting effect."

Oxymoron "noun : a figure of speech in which apparently contradictory terms appear in conjunction (e.g. faith unfaithful kept him falsely true )."

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