American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition
- n. A situation in which a desired outcome or solution is impossible to attain because of a set of inherently illogical rules or conditions: "In the Catch-22 of a closed repertoire, only music that is already familiar is thought to deserve familiarity” ( Joseph McLennan).
- n. The rules or conditions that create such a situation.
- n. A situation or predicament characterized by absurdity or senselessness.
- n. A contradictory or self-defeating course of action: "The Catch-22 of his administration was that every grandiose improvement scheme began with community dismemberment” ( Village Voice).
- n. A tricky or disadvantageous condition; a catch: "Of course, there is a Catch-22 with Form 4868—you are supposed to include a check if you owe any additional tax, otherwise you face some penalties” ( New York).
- Title of the 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. (Wiktionary)
- After Catch-22, a novel by Joseph Heller (1923-1999), American writer. (American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition)
“Algren, with far greater precision, called Catch-22 "not merely the best American novel to come out of World War II; it is the best American novel to come out of anywhere in years.”
“The same way you wouldn't call 'Catch-22' or 'For Whom the Bell Tolls' non-fiction, or any of these other books about war.”
“Harrison: It's kind of a Catch-22 because you're supposed to start falling in love and caring about someone; but if you do, then obviously you don't want them dating a bunch of other guys and you definitely don't want to watch it.”
“A recent study by a University of Chicago economist supports my take on this Catch-22, concluding that preventive intervention is more cost effective, economically efficient and fiscally prudent than remediation once children begin school.”
“But, though not quite a Catch-22, it is awfully close: you can't get out of poverty without a good education, but you aren't likely to get a good education without first getting out of poverty.”
“He worked itinerantly all over the country, but has never had an apartment of his own, or even -- this amazed me -- a photo I.D. (These days, you need a photo I.D. to get the birth certificate you need to get a photo I.D. It's a classic Catch-22.)”
“But the reason these all-important investors continue to buy and hold Treasurys may have little to do with their faith in Washington, D.C.'s capacity to get its fiscal house in order and more to do with a Catch-22 dilemma known as "the dollar trap.”
“That's a Catch-22; she needs a job to receive housing assistance, but she needs housing to properly look for a job.”
“That requirement may seem like a Catch-22 for the nation's nearly 15 million jobless, but it's a surprisingly common one.”
“Our own weird episodes and challenges highlight the Catch-22 aspect of means-tested aid.”
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