Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2023
How to use Catch-22 in a sentence
Yeah, those books: The Things They Carried, The Hunters, Catch-22.
It can result in a Catch-22 for ambitious upstarts: internships offer a foot in the door—but at what economic cost?Introducing Intern Magazine, Which Sparks Debate About Intern Culture | Misty White Sidell | July 30, 2013 | THE DAILY BEAST
This is an earnest book, a rare thing for a post-Catch-22 war novel of the literary ilk.A SEAL’s Mother: Lea Carpenter’s War Novel 'Eleven Days' | Matt Gallagher | June 17, 2013 | THE DAILY BEAST
It is for sure a Catch-22, but who wants to be the person beating their head against the wall?Massachusetts Republicans Missing in Action in U.S. Senate Race | John Avlon | February 7, 2013 | THE DAILY BEAST
I have to say, of all possible reactions to Catch-22, this is one that makes least sense to me.
British Dictionary definitions for catch-22
a situation in which a person is frustrated by a paradoxical rule or set of circumstances that preclude any attempt to escape from them
a situation in which any move that a person can make will lead to trouble
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
Cultural definitions for Catch-22
(1961) A war novel by the American author Joseph Heller. “Catch-22” is a provision in army regulations; it stipulates that a soldier's request to be relieved from active duty can be accepted only if he is mentally unfit to fight. Any soldier, however, who has the sense to ask to be spared the horrors of war is obviously mentally sound, and therefore must stay to fight.
The New Dictionary of Cultural Literacy, Third Edition Copyright © 2005 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.
Other Idioms and Phrases with Catch-22
A no-win dilemma or paradox, similar to damned if I do, damned if I don't. For example, You can't get a job without experience, but you can't get experience unless you have a job—it's Catch-22. The term gained currency as the title of a 1961 war novel by Joseph Heller, who referred to an Air Force rule whereby a pilot continuing to fly combat missions without asking for relief is regarded as insane, but is considered sane enough to continue flying if he does make such a request.
The American Heritage® Idioms Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company.