Catch-22 also catch-22 (kăch′twĕn-tē-t, kĕch′-)
1. A situation in which a desired outcome or solution is impossible to attain because of a set of inherently contradictory rules or conditions: "In the Catch-22 of a closed repertoire, only music that is already familiar is thought to deserve familiarity" (Joseph McLennan).
2. 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).
3. 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).
[After Catch-22, a novel by Joseph HELLER.]
The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fifth Edition copyright ©2022 by HarperCollins Publishers. All rights reserved.
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