1. A situation, especially an unpleasant, troublesome, or trying one, from which extrication is difficult.
2. Logic One of the basic states or classifications described by Aristotle into which all things can be placed; a category.
[Middle English, class, category, from Old French, from Late Latin praedicāmentum (translation of Greek katēgoriā, from katēgoreuein, to speak against, signify, predicate), from Latin praedicāre, to proclaim publicly, predicate; see PREACH.]
pre·dic′a·mental (-mĕntl) adj.
Synonyms: predicament, plight1, quandary, jam1, fix, pickle
These nouns refer to a difficult situation that has no readily discernible resolution or way out. A predicament is a problematic situation about which one does not know what to do: "The wrenching predicament for conservation biologists is that endangered species reach the point of no return before their numbers fall to zero" (Cynthia Mills).
A plight is a bad or unfortunate situation: "All he desires is to escape from his plight" (J.R.R. Tolkien).
A quandary is a state of perplexity, especially about what course of action to take: "Having captured our men, we were in a quandary how to keep them" (Theodore Roosevelt).
The words jam and fix are more informal and refer to a predicament from which escape is difficult: "The only way to be certain he will not get into some sort of a jam is to put a chain around his neck and lead him around like a performing bear" (Jack Dempsey)."Here was one murder defendant ... who did not like to joke about the fix he was in" (Robert Traver).
Another informal term, a pickle is a disagreeable, embarrassing, or troublesome predicament: "I could see no way out of the pickle I was in" (Robert Louis Stevenson).
The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fifth Edition copyright ©2016 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.
The American Heritage Dictionary Blog
Check out our blog, updated regularly, for new words and revised definitions, interesting images from the 5th edition, discussions of usage, and more.
American Heritage Dictionary Products
The American Heritage Dictionary, 5th Edition
The American Heritage Dictionary of Idioms
The American Heritage Roget's Thesaurus
Curious George's Dictionary
The American Heritage Children's Dictionary
The American Heritage Dictionary of Indo-European Roots
The American Heritage Student Grammar Dictionary
The American Heritage Desk Dictionary + Thesaurus
The American Heritage Science Dictionary
The American Heritage Dictionary of Business Terms
The American Heritage Student Dictionary
The American Heritage Essential Student Thesaurus