|1.||a situation in which a person is frustrated by a paradoxical rule or set of circumstances that preclude any attempt to escape from them|
|2.||a situation in which any move that a person can make will lead to trouble|
|[C20: from the title of a novel (1961) by the US writer J. Heller (1923–99)]|
(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.
Note: Figuratively, a “catch-22” is any absurd arrangement that puts a person in a double bind: for example, a person can't get a job without experience, but can't get experience without a job.
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 jobit'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.