• Catch-22
  • Stuck between a rock and a hard place
  • Damned if you do, damned if you don’t

All three of these sayings mean roughly the same thing, but while the second two are fairly straight forward in their meaning, a Catch-22 doesn’t really explain itself well.  Craig suggested “Catch-22” for a TWT post.

Catch-22 is relatively young for a saying or phrase.  It was born in 1961 as the title of a book by Joseph Heller.  Catch-22 is the term Heller coined to invoke military bureaucracy.  The number 22 was chosen simply because it sounded nice. It is used multiple times in the novel when characters are grappling with circular logic.  The main focus of Catch-22 (the novel) is the dilemma of WWII fighter pilots who wish to be grounded from combat missions on the basis of insanity, but the fact that these pilots ask to be grounded proves that they are sane, as only a crazy person would want to fly combat missions.

So, essentially, a Catch-22 is a situation in which the solution to a problem causes the problem to repeat itself, or a situation in which you know something negative is going to happen, but you have no control over preventing it.

Have you ever been in a Catch-22?

Do you have a term or phrase that you coined yourself?