n. (often attrib.) colloq. a dilemma or circumstance from which there is no escape because of mutually conflicting or dependent conditions.
Etymology: title of a novel by J. Heller (1961) featuring a dilemma of this kind

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\\¦ ̷ ̷ ¦ ̷ ̷  ̷ ̷ ¦ ̷ ̷ \ noun (plural catch-22's or catch-22s)
Usage: often capitalized C
Etymology: from Catch-22, the paradoxical rule found in the novel Catch-22 (1961) by Joseph Heller died 1999 American author, from catch (II) (difficulty) + 22
1. : a problematic situation for which the only solution is denied by a circumstance inherent in the problem or by a rule

the show-business catch-22—no work unless you have an agent, no agent unless you've worked — Mary Murphy

also : the circumstance or rule that denies a solution

this Catch-22 principle of the tax code: … any transaction which has no substantive object other than to reduce one's taxes—does not qualify to reduce one's taxes — Andrew Tobias

a. : an illogical, unreasonable, or senseless situation

continuing the Catch-22 logic, he explained that the agents busted in with guns drawn “to reduce the potential for violence” — Michael Drosnin

b. : a measure or policy whose effect is the opposite of what was intended

a medical catch-22: some experts now believe that the examination … may actually cause more cases of breast cancer than it helps to cure — Newsweek

c. : a situation presenting two equally undesirable alternatives : dilemma

catch-22” If I don't jog, it's bad. If I jog in polluted city air, it's bad — Jim Berry

3. : catch 7

the puritanical Catch-22 that runs through our society—pleasure, it warns, must be paid for — Janet S. King

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/kach"twen'tee tooh"/, n., pl. Catch-22's, Catch-22s.
1. a frustrating situation in which one is trapped by contradictory regulations or conditions.
2. any illogical or paradoxical problem or situation; dilemma.
3. a condition, regulation, etc., preventing the resolution of a problem or situation; catch.
[from a military regulation in a novel of the same name (1961) by U.S. novelist Joseph Heller (born 1923)]

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Catchˈ-22ˈ adjective
(title of novel by J Heller, 1961) denoting an absurd situation in which one can never win, being constantly balked by a clause, rule, etc which itself can alter to block any change in one's course of action, or being faced with a choice of courses of action, both or all of which would have undesirable consequences
Such a situation
• • •
Main Entry:catch

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Catch-22 or catch-22 «KACH TWEHN tee TOO», noun, adjective. Informal.
a condition intended to deceive or cheat by its hidden complicated or perverted nature, especially in spite of efforts to override such a condition; any paradoxical rule or situation: »

... the Catch-22 of modern prison life, “a grand hypocrisy in which custodial concerns, administrative exigencies and punishment are all disguised as treatment” (Atlantic).

characterized by such a condition or situation: »

By organizing for complete military disaster it is possible, on a sort of warped Catch-22 approach, to emerge from war economically prosperous (New Scientist).

[< Catch-22, title of a novel (1961) by Joseph Heller, born 1923, an American writer; from the name given in this novel to an absurdly paradoxical Air Force rule applied to combat pilots]

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n. a dilemma or difficult circumstance from which there is no escape because of mutually conflicting or dependent conditions

[as adj.] a catch-22 situation

1970s: title of a novel by Joseph Heller (1961), in which the main character feigns madness in order to avoid dangerous combat missions, but his desire to avoid them is taken to prove his sanity

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Catch-22 [Catch-22]
a comic but serious US novel (1961) about the ↑madness of war. It was written by Joseph Heller (1923–1999), and a film version was made in 1970. The story is about a US Air Force pilot during World War II. He hates the war and tries to avoid having to fly planes. The book was a great success with US students in the 1960s. The expression Catch-22 has now entered the English language, meaning an unpleasant situation from which you cannot escape because you need to do one thing before doing a second, and you cannot do the second thing before doing the first

We’re in a Catch-22 situation.

There was only one catch and that was Catch-22, which specified that a concern for one’s own safety in the face of dangers that were real and immediate was the process of a rational mind … Orr would be crazy to fly more missions and sane if he didn’t, but if he was sane he had to fly them. If he flew them he was crazy and didn’t have to; but if he didn’t want to he was sane and had to.

Useful english dictionary. 2012.

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  • catch — ► VERB (past and past part. caught) 1) intercept and hold (something thrown, propelled, or dropped). 2) seize or take hold of. 3) capture after a chase or in a trap, net, etc. 4) be in time to board (a train, bus, etc.) or to see (a person,… …   English terms dictionary

  • Catch-22 — ist der Titel des 1961 erschienenen ersten Romans von Joseph Heller über die Absurdität des Krieges und die Dummheit der Militär Maschinerie. Das anfangs wenig erfolgreiche Buch wurde erst durch Mundpropaganda und Weitergabe und Empfehlung des… …   Deutsch Wikipedia

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