Spelling Tips: Dilemma or Dilemna?
2-minute read

Spelling Tips: Dilemma or Dilemna?

If you have a problem, are you facing a “dilemma” or a “dilemna”? Only one of these spellings is correct. To make sure your writing is error free, then, check out our guide to what this word means and how to spell it correctly.

What Does Dilemma Mean?

Traditionally, a “dilemma” is a difficult choice between two options:

He faced the dilemma of choosing between his job and his marriage.

The dilemma is whether to prioritize the environment or the economy.

This was because the “di-” in “dilemma” originally meant “two.”

Over time, though, this noun has come to mean “a difficult choice or problem” more generally. As such, it is often used in situations where there are more than two options available. For instance:

Doctors face an ethical dilemma when a patient refuses treatment.

Experimental research on animals poses a moral dilemma.

With all the options available, choosing a university can be a dilemma.

Typically, “dilemma” implies an unpleasant choice. This could be because both options have negative consequences. But it can also simply be that picking one thing involves ruling out other desirable outcomes.

Find this useful?

Subscribe to our newsletter and get writing tips from our editors straight to your inbox.

The Error: Dilemna

As in all the examples above, the correct spelling of this word is “dilemma.” However, many people misspell this word as “dilemna”:

Deciding whether or not to act can be a dilemna.

Deciding whether or not to act can be a dilemma.

Journalists are often confronted with ethical dilemnas.

Journalists are often confronted with ethical dilemmas.

This may be because “mm” and “mn” look similar. But “dilemna” is always an error: in all cases, “dilemma” should be spelled with a double “m.”

Summary: Dilemma or Dilemna?

A “dilemma” is a difficult choice or problem, often involving two or more undesirable options. Some people make the mistake of spelling this word with an “mn” instead of a double “mm.” But “dilemna” is always an error!

To avoid this mistake, remember that the “di-” in this word originally meant “two.” Helpfully, this matches the two Ms in the middle of “dilemma”!

And for more help with your spelling, or any other aspect of your writing, why not submit a free trial document to our proofreaders?

Comments (0)

Upload a document

Instant Quote

Need more help perfecting your writing?

Proofed has the perfect editor!

Instant Quote

Price
$25.00

You can also upload a document to get an instant quote

Icon of cloud upload

Drag & drop your file

or browse your computer

Browse from your device

Icon of cloud upload

Drop your file here!

Icon of loading status

Your file is being
uploaded!

More Writing Tips?
Trusted by thousands of leading institutions and businesses

Make sure your writing is the best it can be with our expert English proofreading and editing.