I am just trying to find out an expression that is an opposite of "win-win situation? when you are having problems or in troubles and trying to get out or to solve those problems in multiple way but none of them will work on these issues. What kind of an expression would fit? I thought was simply "lose-lose situation" but did not find it in the dictionary.

Thank you very much.

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    A no-win situation. – Edwin Ashworth Aug 16 '15 at 21:58
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    Just because lose-lose situation isn’t in a particular dictionary doesn’t mean you can’t use it. And you can’t have looked very far. Lose-lose is easily found in Merriam-Webster, Oxford Dictionaries Online, American Heritage Dictionary, Wiktionary, etc. – Janus Bahs Jacquet Aug 16 '15 at 22:34
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    Yeah, I'd consider using "no-win", though its usual sense is not exactly the opposite of "win-win". In a "win-win" situation, both competing parties come out ahead, whereas a "no-win" situation is usually taken to mean that one party has no viable/attractive options -- that the other party will win regardless. – Hot Licks Aug 16 '15 at 22:36
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    no-win is quite different from lose-lose. it does not even apply to the same paradigm of event. poor suggestion. – Fattie Aug 17 '15 at 1:27
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    Hi Hot Licks. Your comment above can be paraphrased as: "no-win is totally, utterly, incorrect. but let's use that.". You beautifully and concisely explain why no-win is irrelevant! – Fattie Aug 17 '15 at 1:29

it's quite simply a

lose-lose situation.

Of or being a situation in which the outcome is detrimental or disadvantageous to each of two often opposing sides. (ADH)

This is a completely common business phrase.

(My brother would joke that he "only likes win-win situations .. wherein he wins on a deal .. and then wins again on it!" :-) )

  • Well, your brother is honest and most of us dislike lose-lose situations, but it is unavoidable to face such predicaments in whole life time as human being. However I believe that kind of difficult situations would be great opportunity to find yourself and contains real practices of how we live of life. – teizoartjewelry Aug 17 '15 at 21:15
  • Hi Teizo. Right - the line from my brother is just a joke. A typical businessman's joke you know? :) Regarding your philosophical point, I'm sure you're right. These things depend on what phase you are in, in this life, I think. – Fattie Aug 17 '15 at 21:17
  • Thanks, Joe, I know its a joke and I liked it. I just wanted to say that because it reminds me Keanu reeves's private life. Not long ago I had a chance to meet him @soho apple store and he was such an attractive person, not just a mature adult actor. I found something different in him was much more deeper scale, broader wit, etc. – teizoartjewelry Aug 17 '15 at 21:36
  • Heh what an unusual offbeat comment. It's quite weird you mention that .... I saw that guy once and he does have a nice calm aura. – Fattie Aug 18 '15 at 0:43

There's Damned if you do, damned if you don't:

A situation in which one can't win. For example, If I invite Aunt Jane, Mother will be angry, and if I don't, I lose Jane's friendship—I'm damned if I do and damned if I don't.


A positive sum or win–win situation produces a mutually beneficial result, while in a negative sum situation, the contestants experience mutual loss.

(From "Understanding Conflict and Conflict Analysis")

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    just FWIW a win-loss situation can also, in fact, be a net-gain situation. – Fattie Aug 17 '15 at 21:19

Lose-lose seems to be the best option, and it does appear in many dictionaries. Or just say, "It was a situation where neither party won."


I agree you can say "lose-lose situation" -- it's fine! But I also have another option to offer you:

Everyone loses.

For example, In such-and-so situation, by far the ideal outcome would be to settle out of court. Going to hearing would mean everybody loses.

  • Thank you. In another word, nobody got win-win situation in this court room. Something like that? – teizoartjewelry Aug 19 '15 at 2:38
  • @teizoartjewelry - I think so. Let me explain it another way. If A and B can't settle out of court, i.e. come to an agreement, then they go to court and pay huge amounts of money to lawyers, and spend tremendous amounts of time preparing their cases, and feeling bitterness. – aparente001 Aug 19 '15 at 3:04

It's a little hyperbolic, but you could be describing a:

Doomsday Scenario

From Oxford Dictionaries Online:

1.2 A time or event of crisis or great danger:

[as modifier]: ‘in all the concern over greenhouse warming, one doomsday scenario stands out’


First, the expression is "win/win." People have forgotten the difference between hyphens and slashes, apparently.

Second, the reason "win/win" is used in the first place is that the normal outcome is win/lose; that is the opposite of win/win. In most two-sided contests, one side wins and the other loses. "Win/win" is used to convey the idea of an outcome that defies this norm.

More about two-sided situations, slashes, and hyphens here.

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