Let's say I have something like a laptop or a mobile phone which has got comparable positive features and negative features and it is very difficult for me to decide whether it is overall good or bad.

Is there any word describing this thing?

  • It's a finely-balanced decision/judgement. Commented Feb 26, 2013 at 20:05
  • @FumbleFingers I think of finely-balanced as a delicately mediated and compromised decision; for me, this phrase gives a decision the feeling of precariousness. Commented Feb 26, 2013 at 21:15

9 Answers 9


There's the idiom sitting on the fence (sometimes said as straddling the fence).

This idiom is often used to describe someone who is having trouble taking sides in a controversial issue, but it can also refer to someone who is simply having trouble making a decision about something.

Which laptop are you going to get?
I don't know - I'm sitting on the fence.

Phrase Finder defines it as:

sit on the fence (Figurative) not to take sides in a dispute; not to make a clear choice between two possibilities; to delay making a decision when you have to choose between two sides in an argument or a competition. (Origin: the image of someone straddling a fence, representing indecision.)

You can read a few examples usages at this website. Sometimes the expression is used negatively, though. Wikipedia mentions:

"Sitting on the fence" is a common idiom used in English to describe one's neutrality, hesitance to choose between two sides in an argument or a competition, or inability to decide due to lack of courage. This is done either in order to remain on good terms with both sides, or due to apathy to the situation and not wanting to choose a position they don't actually agree with.

Another word you could use instead is undecided, or torn:

Which laptop are you going to get?
I don't know - I'm torn.

Collins defines this word as:

torn (adj.) divided or undecided, as in preference ⇒ he was torn between staying and leaving

The word torn implies a reluctance to choose because there are aspects of both possibilities that are equally appealing (or unappealing).

  • 1
    Where I am from "on the fence" is more common than "sitting on the fence," but equivalent.
    – horatio
    Commented Feb 26, 2013 at 21:17
  • 3
    A word of warning: being "on the fence" is description of the indecisive person, rather than the decision itself.
    – Matt
    Commented Feb 26, 2013 at 21:37
  • Also, I've never heard of anyone being torn - I've always heard it in the context of being torn between X and Y
    – Matt
    Commented Feb 26, 2013 at 21:41
  • 5
    @Matt: around here, "I'm torn" (with no further elaboration, except from context) is a perfectly normal utterance.
    – Martha
    Commented Feb 26, 2013 at 21:58
  • @Martha: Hmm. Maybe it's a US English thing. It sounds really weird to my British English ears :)
    – Matt
    Commented Feb 26, 2013 at 22:03

I would go with

It's a toss up between this laptop versus that laptop, because they are so similar.

This is an English idiom, meaning that there is a choice where it is difficult to decide between one solution and another.


Some informal idioms that come to mind are:

  • It's a wash
  • It's six of one, half a dozen of the other
  • Same difference

A phrase with a less informal feel is:

The choices are comparable.

  • 1
    I've always found it amusing that the Hungarian equivalent to the "six of one, half dozen of the other" expression uses the number 19. ("One's nineteen, the other's one less than twenty", more or less.)
    – Martha
    Commented Feb 26, 2013 at 21:59

I believe the most accurate word to describe that situation would be ambivalent. You would be ambivalent. Or, you would be experiencing or feeling ambivalence.

From a quick Google search, the top definition gives:

having mixed feelings or contradictory ideas about something or someone.


"some loved her, some hated her, few were ambivalent about her"

You might like some of these synonyms as well, however my opinion is that ambivalent is the superior choice.


equivocal, uncertain, unsure, doubtful, indecisive, inconclusive,
irresolute, of two minds, undecided, torn, in a quandary,
on the fence, hesitating, wavering, vacillating, equivocating,
blowing/running hot and cold;

As an aside, 'Ambivalent' is one of my favorite words and I find that I use it often.

I hope this helps.


Similar to "toss up" is the expression "it's a coin flip." (This is the expression from which "toss up" is derived.)


"borderline" or "bordering on" seems the right sense for me, or as a phrase "a borderline case". "My laptop is generally OK, but for some uses it is borderline" or "...it is bordering on being too heavy / slow / ..."



A single word replacement for the word "edge," when used to describe the emotional state or decisional position is used in the pseudo-prepositional phrase, "on the verge."



teeter ˈtiːtə/Submit verb gerund or present participle: teetering move or balance unsteadily; sway back and forth. "she teetered after him in her high-heeled sandals" synonyms: totter, walk unsteadily, wobble, toddle; More


"Bleeding edge" technology is "leading edge" technology that hasn't been "worn in" yet. The "edge" is so "sharp" that it is likely to figuratively "cut" both its owner and the problems it is meant to solve.

Most people avoid purchasing "bleeding edge" technology, because:

  • it tends to be expensive
  • it often has serious problems
  • it is often hard to make or get
  • it is often hard to get repaired
  • it often becomes obsolete when a different, easier or cheaper or safer technology is adopted instead.

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