catch-22 situation


  • the particular situation in which one cannot win
  • a paradoxical situation from which an individual cannot escape because of conflicting restrictions
  • a difficult situation
  • a problem from which one cannot get out
  • an unreasonable, irrational, or meaningless situation
  • a situation presenting two similarly unwanted solutions
  • dilemma; quandary or predicament

Example Sentences

  1. I couldn’t start my own business until I have got money, and I couldn’t get the money until I start my own business, oh my God, this is the real Catch-22 situation.
  2. David is caught in a Catch-22 situation, unable to choose which way to go.
  3. Working parents are in the Catch-22 situation as daycares remain shut during the Covid-19 pandemic.
  4. The coal miners are in a Catch 22 situation; either quit working but have no income for themselves and their family or keep working until they are at death’s door.
  5. James is presently in a catch-22 situation as he is struggling to get another work visa to find a good job somewhere else.
  6. I’m in a very catch-22 situation. I cannot give up because I feel that I would lose it whatever little chance I have of getting work now.
  7. In needing the experience to get a job…”How can I get any experience until I get a job that gives me experience?” – Brantley Foster in The Secret of My Success.


The idiom was first coined by Joseph Heller, an American writer who used it in his novel Catch-22 published on November 10, 1961.

The novel Catch-22 describes ridiculous official restrictions on soldiers in World War II. The idiom is introduced by the character Doc Daneeka, an army psychiatrist who invokes “Catch-22” to describe why any pilot demanding mental evaluation for insanity—hoping to be found not sane enough to fly and thereby escape dangerous missions—demonstrates his sanity in creating the request and thus cannot be declared insane. This phrase also means a dilemma or difficult situation from which there is no escape because of mutually conflicting or dependent conditions.

“You mean there’s a catch?”

“Sure, there’s a catch,” Doc Daneeka replied. “Catch-22. Anyone who wants to get out of combat duty isn’t crazy.”

There was only one catch and that was Catch-22, which specified that a concern for one’s safety in the face of dangers that were real and immediate was the process of a rational mind. Orr was crazy and could be grounded. All he had to do was ask; and as soon as he did, he would no longer be crazy and would have to fly more missions. 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. Yossarian was moved very deeply by the absolute simplicity of this clause of Catch-22 and let out a respectful whistle.

Share your opinions16 Opinions

In this scenario, the catch-22 arises from the conflicting requirement of needing work experience to secure a job, yet being unable to acquire work experience without already having a job.

‒ Robles María January 6, 2024

A person wants to go home, but forgot where they live. In order to remember they have to go home.

‒ KIY August 9, 2021

The following is an excerpt from Ralph The Heir, Anthony Trollope, 1871:
But then that quandary have become very a lot smaller to his sight whilst it become surmounted,—as is the character with all dilemmas; and the alternative predicament, which could were remedied had Polly regularly occurring him, again loomed very huge. And as he looked again at the matrimonial catch 22 situation which he had escaped, and at Polly status before him, comely, healthy, and sincere, such a nice armful, and so womanly withal,—so best a lady if only she changed into no longer to be judged and sentenced by means of others beside himself,—he nearly thought that that catch 22 situation became one that he may want to have borne with out complaint.

‒ Anonymous July 12, 2021

But why catch 22. Why not ravioli 6 or Nike 7. Why “Catch (catch what) and 22? 22 of what?

‒ Carlos May 19, 2021

A man have to choose who will going to be alive his wife or his child coz only one could survive.

‒ Julie Ann Pare April 2, 2021

The EGG before the CHICKEN, or the CHICKEN before the EGG? Classic ‘Catch 22’ situation.

‒ Jeremiah November 23, 2020

I don’t get a job without having work experience but l can’t get experience until I get a job. Oh God, I am in catch 22 situation.

‒ Shreya Jadhav May 12, 2020

“Catch 22” is the title of a book written by Joseph Heller. In this book there are various examples of “Catch 22 Situations”

Example of a Catch 22 Scenario:
I need money to start my own business, but I need to start my own business to get money.

‒ College Student April 18, 2020

You lost your eyeglasses, so you have to find them. To look for them, you need your eyeglasses.

‒ Anonymous April 11, 2020

I have desire to married but I don’t have any job. For finding job I have needed to married, so I believe it is catch-22 situation.

‒ Anonymous March 30, 2020

You can’t go to a good collage unless you pay a lot of money but to get a good job you need collage but to get a lot of money you need a good job.

‒ Anonymous March 22, 2019

I couldn’t start my preparation until I get the concentration and I couldn’t start my preparation this us the real catch 22 situation.

‒ Supreetha November 20, 2018

Dear God, I feel like I am in a Catch-22 situation. I want to finish this project I’ve been working on, but that needs brainpower, which I don’t have, then that needs sleep to gain brainpower, but I can’t sleep until I get that project done!

‒ Gavin November 12, 2018

“I really don’t like posting a comment online.” – simple paradox, isn’t it?

‒ Tyeng March 7, 2018

If die, if I do not die, I will still die. Is this a catch-22 situation?

‒ Ananth Prasad January 10, 2018

In big cities, if you don’t have a place to live in, you can’t get a job,you can’t get a place to live in! Thus it’s catch 22 situation.

‒ Sumaiya October 12, 2017

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