Is there a word that means having a choice between two options? I can't use Binary Options as that is associated with a "financial option" or gambling.


Mike got two job offers in one week after being unemployed for a month. He was happy for his _____ (adjective noun)

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    Why "adjective"? There is nothing to qualify. I suggest a noun such as "dilemma" or "luck" or "opportunity". Nov 22, 2017 at 21:32
  • Nouns are naming words for objects, like tree, cat and human. The word I'm looking for can't be a noun as it doesn't refer to an object. It also can't be a verb as verbs are doing words like kick, speak and sleep. You can't "do" having two choices for something. So it must be an adjective. ;) It describes a situation. Nouns and verbs can't describe a situation.
    – desbest
    Nov 22, 2017 at 21:33
  • Sorry, but "luck" is a noun. You don't have to be able to touch or see something for it to be a noun. Your insistence for an adjective could produce Mike got two job offers in one week after being unemployed for a month. He was happy for his lucky. This does not work. It would need another noun to qualify, such as happy for his lucky strike. Nov 22, 2017 at 21:35
  • Doesn't the word lucky in the second sentence, describe the strike, considering that without the word strike after it, it doesn't work? The word lucky, adds extra meaning to the word strike, in the same way in "red ball", the word red adds extra meaning to the word ball.
    – desbest
    Nov 22, 2017 at 21:40
  • Yes that is what I wrote. Nov 22, 2017 at 21:40

5 Answers 5

  1. Dilemma

. - a situation in which a difficult choice has to be made between two different things you could do:

Dilemma seems to have a negative connotation but you could predicate it with "happy" as in happy dilemma.

  1. Typically such situations are referred to as "Good problem to have".
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    Is there a word for dilemma without a negative connotation? What if it isn't a difficult choice?
    – desbest
    Nov 22, 2017 at 21:42
  • 2
    Dilemma is a good answer to this question... I can't understand the down-votes. A dilemma doesn't have to be an unpleasant or uncomfortable occurrence, necessarily. Nov 22, 2017 at 21:59
  • @ArchContrarian Why do you say that? I would never use dilemma on this context. The OED and MW both agree with me. I downvoted because I view this answer as wrong. Nov 27, 2017 at 5:00
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    @StellaBiderman ... OK, thanks. I was genuinely questioning the reasoning behind the downvotes, rather than criticising their existence. Maybe my understanding of the normal usage is a bit skewed because I studied formal logic at one time in my life, but to me 'dilemma' includes any difficult choice between two options, even when both options are positive. I accept that (all else being equal) dilemma is usually 'a bad thing'. Nov 27, 2017 at 15:55
  • @ArchContrarian A dilemma can be a difficult choice to make, even when both options are positive. The issue is that the fact that you need to make a choice choice needs to be distressing for it to be a dilemma. The experience of being in the position of making a choice can be negative, even if both choices are beneficial. This could happen if Mike has two offers in different fields and worries about which will be a better decision for his future, for example. However, Mike is explicitly happy to be in the situation he is in, and so it's not a dilemma. Nov 27, 2017 at 15:58

Quandary is one word (I believe this is a single word request).

I would rephrase as below: Mike got two job offers in one week after being unemployed for a month. leaving him in a happy quandary.

But I do like "embarrassment of riches" and, simply, "in a pickle." The pickle would be necessarily a happy one. "He was in a happy pickle."

  • What if it's not a difficult choice, for example choosing what chocolate bar to eat.
    – desbest
    Nov 23, 2017 at 3:05


luck, especially good luck.

The aspect that he has to make a difficult decision is a dilemma or quandary. Having two choices is fortune, either as "luck" or maybe "wealth".


I think that the best single word to fill this blank would be along the lines of "luck", "choices", or "offers". I agree with the comments that there isn't a single noun in English that specifically means "having the ability to choose between multiple options" that doesn't carry a negative attitude towards the choice. You can either allude to the multiplicity or to the fact that he is pleased, but not both at the same time.

In particular, the answer of "dilemma" is wrong; a dilemma is a distressing or unpleasant choice. The Cambridge, dictionary.com, and Merriam Webster dictionaries all use it only in the context.

If you are open to using multiple words, you can use a phrase like "binary choice”, “dual offers", "multiple options" and similar.

  • Binary choice sounds good.
    – desbest
    Nov 22, 2017 at 21:58
  • @desbest that's what I would go with, personally. Nov 22, 2017 at 21:58
  • Hello, Stella. Some questions just don't fit the ELU template. Nov 22, 2017 at 23:15
  • @EdwinAshworth I don’t understand the meaning of your comment. Nov 27, 2017 at 5:02
  • Responding 'there's no such word', especially for the umpteenth time, does not constitute a good 'answer' on ELU. That's why others have just used 'comments'. Also for work-arounds. Nov 27, 2017 at 15:09

I was trying to discern the same 'word' to-day, which for my circumstance was predicating an ultimatum:

  1. a. In diplomacy, the final terms presented by one power (or group of powers) to another, the rejection of which may lead to [ a severance. ]

(Oxford English Dictionary)

  • Are you suggesting that ultimatum is the word? I'm not sure that actually fits the suggested sentence. Jan 26, 2020 at 7:17

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