I'd like to express the fact that there were no viable alternatives to a decision I took.

My decision to attend university X was stringent / without alternative / a no-brainer / objectively necessary because it was the only one offering the course in which I am interested.

I'm not sure whether stringent in this context is appropriate. The rest of the listed phrases in italics are passable for my taste but I'd like to use a single word to express the notion of having no real alternative.

  • 3
    Perhaps, "forced"?
    – deadrat
    Commented Jul 13, 2015 at 9:03
  • @deadrat: Thanks! "forced" is alright but sounds a bit too, well, violent and negative. Commented Jul 13, 2015 at 9:11
  • 1
    I like "forced" and don't think it suggests violence in this context. Hobson's choice describes the situation very clearly though isn't the wording you want (I'd suggest you rephrase); if you want to avoid "forced" then my hands were tied in this decision is also a useful phrase.
    – Silverfish
    Commented Jul 13, 2015 at 9:45
  • 1
    True, "forced" doesn't really suggest violence. But I think it evokes a sense of helplessness, which is not what I'm trying to say. I prefer the tone of the phrase that Edwin Ashworth has suggested: my decision was made for me Commented Jul 13, 2015 at 10:16
  • 2
    You might also like "a foregone conclusion".
    – bonh
    Commented Jul 13, 2015 at 19:26

13 Answers 13


You may use inevitable:

  • Impossible to avoid or prevent; certain to happen.



Your choice was a foregone conclusion, also sometimes expressed as fore-drawn conclusion.

  • Dunno why this guy got downvoted. I think it's a perfect answer.
    – loneboat
    Commented Jul 13, 2015 at 22:01
  • @loneboat: I didn't downvote, but I dislike this phrase because its literal meaning is unclear and unrelated to present usage. (It comes to us from Othello but even there it's a little murky.) Something that "is forgone" can be something preceded by something else, or that has gone (or in the classic style "is gone") before something else. So it seems to me the phrase can refer to either 1) an inevitable future event preceded by clear signs, or 2) a decision made too soon, before the gathering of evidence or careful deduction. When I hear it I suspect the speaker just isn't thinking.
    – Beta
    Commented Jul 14, 2015 at 0:48
  • 3
    @Beta: When I hear it, it's usually perfectly clear from the context which definition is meant.
    – Stephan B
    Commented Jul 14, 2015 at 5:44
  • Whilst a good solution, in common usage, this isn't a single word adjective, which is what the OP asked for. Commented Jul 14, 2015 at 23:18

adj., ineluctable

  • impossible to avoid or evade
  • My decision to attend university X was ineluctable..

A five syllable beauty like ineluctable is obviously not the kind of word you throw around in daily speech. It's far more often used as a written word, as in the common phrase "ineluctable conclusion." (vocab.com)

It is a Hobson's choice (in comments..)

Hobson had an extensive stable of some 40 horses. This gave the appearance to his customers that, upon entry, that customer would have his or her choice of mounts, when in fact there was only one:

  • Where to elect there is but one, / 'Tis Hobson's choice—take that, or none.


  • 1
    I prefer this over inevitable mostly because inevitability implies something happening because of fate or destiny, whereas ineluctable speaks more to the question's emphasis on a conclusion due to lack of alternatives. I would also consider unavoidable, but this is much better. Commented Jul 14, 2015 at 14:59

Obligatory is the synonym I'd choose here.

obligatory adjective

1 forcing one's compliance or participation by or as if by law ...

Synonyms compulsory, forced, imperative, incumbent, involuntary, necessary, nonelective, obligatory, peremptory, required


  • 2
    Thanks a lot! "My decision was obligatory, because ..." would you write that? Just asking, because I never saw obligatory modifying decision before. Commented Jul 13, 2015 at 9:19
  • 1
    I'd prefer 'My decision was made for me', or your 'There were no viable alternatives ...', if I'm not constrained by your 'My decision to attend university X was___'. We never know here whether a person has thought up an example frame to get suggestions for a preferred synonym, or whether they want the most natural-sounding rewrite. There aren't too many internet examples of 'obligatory decision'; one is 'Wolf at least ...[says] that such a choice is in some circumstances the right, even obligatory, decision. ' Commented Jul 13, 2015 at 9:39
  • I don't think it's idiomatic to describe a decision as obligatory, but an action or a choice can be: 'My choice of university X was obligatory'.
    – nekomatic
    Commented Jul 14, 2015 at 8:23
  • Things are either idiomatic or not. I'd agree that the rephrasing is and the coupling with decision is not a collocation – but neither is it wrong. But as I say, I'd rephrase here if given a free choice. Commented Jul 14, 2015 at 9:05

Hobson's Choice

A Hobson's choice is a free choice in which only one option is offered.

Wikipedia link

  • This is the first thing that popped into my mind, but it isn't a single word adjective, which is what the OP asked for. Commented Jul 14, 2015 at 23:17

You made the obvious choice. Given the options, one in particular was obviously and by far preferable to all others, so you chose that one.

  • 1
    This is the most obvious answer.
    – Octopus
    Commented Jul 14, 2015 at 18:03

Compulsory would be appropriate:

  • If something is compulsory, you must do it because of a rule or law.

(Cambridge Dictionary)

  • 1
    I like this one, being derived from compelled and compulsion, which suggest complete lack of control over the decision. Rules or laws are generally the reason for a compulsory action, but not necessarily - you might want to make that clear.
    – talrnu
    Commented Jul 13, 2015 at 12:52
  • 1
    It's not appropriate to the question though, because the decision was not made because of a rule but because of circumstances (no other choices available).
    – nekomatic
    Commented Jul 14, 2015 at 8:15

I would say your decision was natural (M-W: having an essential relation with someone or something : following from the nature of the one in question ).


I'd go with "inescapable".

Merriam-Webster sez: "incapable of being avoided, ignored, or denied."


My decision to attend University X was constrained by the fact it was the only one offering ...

Constrained means the options were limited by an external factor or filter.


How about one of these: hinged necessitated apparent

My decision to attend university X /hinged on the fact that/ it was the only one offering the course in which I am interested.

My decision to attend university X was /necessitated as/ it was the only one offering the course in which I am interested.

My decision to attend university X was /apparent as/ it was the only one offering the course in which I am interested.


Your decision was a formality, as in something done or happening as a matter of course and without question. A mathematician might describe it as trivial, meaning simple, although non-mathematicians that carries an implication of being unimportant (which your choice of university certainly isn't).


You made a choiceless decision.

  • I agree with this answer, but the phrase you present it in is an oxymoron (if there is no choice, then you're not making a decision). Perhaps it should be rephrased, e.g. "Your situation is choiceless."? Or is this an idiom I'm just not aware of?
    – talrnu
    Commented Jul 14, 2015 at 17:39
  • @talrnu I agree it's not an ideal way of saying it; however, the question asks for a way to describe a decision that had no alternative. A decision made when there was no alternative is not much of a decision. In the OP's specific case, it was to go to the one school offering the course or to not take the course at all. That's still a decision, but when not taking the course isn't an option, one has no choices. Deciding to go to the school was a decision in which there was no real choice. A choiceless decision. My phrasing is as much oxymoronic as the question, which is rather fitting....
    – Jim
    Commented Jul 14, 2015 at 18:00
  • 1
    TL;DR, it's more of a poetic way of separating a choice (as being able to pick between feasible/desirable options) and a decision (as a more general/literal choosing between all options no matter how ridiculous or undesirable)
    – Jim
    Commented Jul 14, 2015 at 18:03
  • True, and on review it seems other answers are also oxymoronic. I guess this one just stood out so starkly due to the absoluteness of choiceless. It does have a nice fatalist/defeatist ring to it.
    – talrnu
    Commented Jul 14, 2015 at 18:35

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