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How to Spell Dilemma: a Trick to Remember

One of the Hardest Spelling Challenges…

Sometimes there is a word so juicy and useful, you want to use it all the time in your writing — the only problem is, it’s a beast to spell… so you’re inclined to just avoid it altogether. One such commonly confused word is: DILEMMA. Ways I’ve spelled it wrong include: dillema, dillemma, delema, dielema, dialmama, dilemna, dulemuh, dalemma, dilemuh, dylemma, and so many more mistakes!

Indeed, it becomes a dilemma whether or not to use the word “dilemma” in a sentence at all, since it makes even the most masterful English user freak out. Never fear, however — help is on the way! What follows is a trick to easily remember how to spell dilemma for the rest of your life.

The spelling is a dilemma!
The spelling of dilemma is a dilemma!

The Definition and Meaning of Dilemma

Before we learn to spell dilemma — the queen of commonly misspelled words — let’s remember what this word means. The easiest definition of dilemma is: a tricky situation where you’re stuck between two options — both of which pose problems. A synonym for dilemma would be: a tough choice. Wondering how to pronounce dilemma? The pronunciation is: “duh-LEH-muh.”

Examples of Dilemmas

Here are some examples of dilemmas that could happen in real life. Notice how in each it’s clear that another word for “dilemma” would be quandary or difficult choice between options.

Dilemma Example 1:

It was a moral dilemma for Mitzi to decide whether or not she should tell her husband that she’d already watched The Social Dilemma movie without him — even after he’d told her not to. If she revealed the truth to him, he’d be upset, but if she hid it, she would be ravaged by guilt for ninety years.

Dilemma Example 2:

After reading the book, The Omnivore’s Dilemma, it became an ethical dilemma for Frank to decide whether or not he should stop eating four burgers and drinking fifteen large lattes every day. If he quit coffee and red meat, his friend Pat’s restaurant and cafe might go out of business, but if Frank continued his unbalanced consumption, he could face long-term health problems.

How to spell dilemma
A mnemonic device to spell dilemma.

How to Spell Dilemma

Now that we know what it means, let’s learn the trick to remembering how to spell “dilemma!” We will use a mnemonic device — a memory aid — to cement the letters in our mind.

Begin with “DIL.” In your mind, remember the words: “Do it Like,” which form the initials: “D. I. L.” Then imagine a person — or cute dog — named “Emma!” What mnemonic phrase results? “Do it Like Emma!” Put together, the initials of the first three words (DIL) plus the name (EMMA) equal: DILEMMA. Here’s a cartoon representation of this spelling lesson and memory trick:

Spell dilemma
Imagine a dog named Emma to spell “dilemma!”

Can You Spell Dilemma Now?

Did that mnemonic device work for teaching you how to spell “dilemma?” Aww, I hope so! If you enjoyed that memory trick, check out the even weirder advice I have on other hard words to spell: how to spell onomatopoeia and how to spell definitely — other fabulous and useful words which many shy away from writing because of their difficulty.

VIDEO: How to Spell Dilemma

More Fun English Lessons:

If you enjoyed this lesson, you’re in luck! Here are a bunch more English lessons which put the “arts” (and joy) into English Language Arts learning. Feel free to leave a comment requesting any lesson I haven’t done yet! I love drawing and writing them to help people around the world.