I seem to remember a specific word, or a two-word phrase being used for

Encountering or coming across a question that you were sure you could answer, such as to explain something being right or wrong, that when told to answer the question, you can't come up with an answer. This resulting in having to question a logic that while previously believed sound suddenly has a hole in it.

I don't mean the phrase moral dilemma, it is a similar phrase or word that is on the tip of my tongue and I just can't think of it, so instead of spending the next 30 minutes thinking about it I am going to post this here to see if someone else can think of it and go get some work done.

I saw a question while posting this, that made me think of a different way to describe it, which would be when you have an argument that you are sure have an answer to, or your own answer at least, such as when yes or no to gun control laws, but when asked to explain your reasoning logically, you start to question what you were previously so sure of due to it having a logic hole poked in it, and '"this is just true cause it is good/right" but no explanation' is not a valid reason, making you stop and think about it in more detail to try and find a reason your first answer was correct.

  • "On the horns of a dilemma", perhaps, depending. Also possible is "hoist on one's own petard". Commented Feb 10, 2022 at 22:21
  • It doesn't sound like a paradox, just that you're discovering things are a lot more complicated than you initially thought. A paradox implies an impossibility or contradiction. Although there may still be a phrase for it.
    – Stuart F
    Commented Feb 11, 2022 at 1:11
  • I wonder if you mean something along the lines of begging the question. Commented Feb 11, 2022 at 2:52

2 Answers 2


conundrum (n.)

A conundrum is a problem or puzzle which is difficult or impossible to solve.


...this theological conundrum of the existence of evil and suffering in a world created by a good God. Collins

An intricate and difficult problem

A question or problem having only a conjectural answer m-w

Gordian knot (n.)

An intricate problem

especially: a problem insoluble in its own terms—often used in the phrase cut the Gordian knot m-w


Quickly reading this question I at first thought there was no answer to it, but on second thought I found that I was wrong.

Merriam Webster

second thought: reconsideration or a revised opinion of a previous often hurried decision

One may often need second thought when encountering a fallacy


an idea that a lot of people think is true but is in fact false
It is a common fallacy that women are worse drivers than men

  • on second thought, singular.
    – Lambie
    Commented Feb 10, 2022 at 22:54
  • 1
    @Lambie Reluctantly agreed, although I have known it more often in the plural. I have slight doubts about the answer: it relates tightly to the discussion of the question but does not strictly answer it; perhaps it will stimulate a better response.
    – Anton
    Commented Feb 10, 2022 at 22:56

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