A common idiomatic expression in use in many English speaking countries is the reference to being caught between the devil and the deep blue sea. Among the most popular of English sayings, the origins of this particular idiom is routinely debated, with some tracing the saying back to the days of Roman and Greek mythology. Whatever the origin, the expression has come to refer to being caught in a dilemma involving only two options, with neither option offering any clear benefits.
There is some evidence that the phrase once involved simply being caught "between the devil and the deep sea." References to a "deep blue sea" emerged during the 20th century with the popularization of a song that added the blue reference to the familiar idiom. Over the years, this new and improved expression has caught on in popular use even among those who have never heard the song.
At its core, being caught between the devil and the deep blue sea is a situation that offers no easy solutions and certainly no options that the hapless individual finds appealing. While evaluating possible actions to deal with a given situation, it quickly becomes apparent that none of the actions offer a way out of the difficult position without incurring some type of collateral damage. For example, if someone accidentally plans two dates for the same night, cancels one on the excuse of illness, and then later runs into that rejected date while out with the other, that man or woman has no course of action that will prevent embarrassment and avoid hurt feelings for at least two and possibly three of the parties involved.
Being caught between the devil and the deep blue sea does not mean that one or more options cannot be employed to bring resolution to a situation. What it does imply is that none of the available solutions will allow a resolution without some amount of frustration and damage. As a result, someone will incur a loss of some type no matter what type of action is taken. This leaves the decision maker with the task of finally identifying which course of action will result in the least amount of damage, in hopes of being able to repair that damage and move on with as little difficulty as possible.