between the devil and the deep blue sea

[between the devil and the deep blue sea] or {literary} [between two fires] or [between a rock and a hard place] {adv. phr.} Between two dangers or difficulties, not knowing what to do.

The pirates had to fight and be killed or give up and be hanged; they were between the devil and the deep blue sea.

The boy was between a rock and a hard place; he had to go home and be whipped or stay in town all night and be picked up by the police.

When the man's wife and her mother got together, he was between two fires.

Compare: COMING AND GOING(2), IN A BIND.