Worst of both worlds

Posted by R. Berg on April 04, 2005

In Reply to: The worst of both worlds - meaning posted by David FG on April 03, 2005

: : : : Could you clarify the meaning of the above expression, please. An example of its usage would be very much appreciated.

: : : : Thank you in advance.

: : : I belive the origanal phrase is "Best of Both Worlds"

: : Thank you for kindly answering my question, DRC.
: : I'm sure that your reply would be enough for a native speaker, but I do not belong to the set - alas - and I'm so sorry that you elected not to be more specific in your explanation. : (
: : Best regards.

: I believe it means that in pursuing a certain course of action a person ends up in a disadvantageous position.

: For example; 'in failing to make a decision about whether to marry Mary or Jane, Robert lost both girls: thus got the worst of both worlds.' Not the best example, I admit, but the best I can do off the top of my head. I am sure others can think of better ones.


"The worst of both worlds" sometimes refers to the unhappy outcome when a person (or group, nation, etc.) tries to combine two courses of action and suffers the bad consequences associated with each one. I say "sometimes" because the phrase also applies to situations that don't result from voluntary actions.

Suppose you go to a party that should be fun, but you don't enjoy it. At the party, you catch a cold. Now you're ill, so you take a medicine that should make you better. It doesn't make you better, and it has nasty side effects. Then you have the worst of both worlds: the illness and the side effects, without the enjoyment you hoped for from the party and without the relief you hoped for from the medicine.