Meaning of catch-22 in English:


Pronunciation /katʃtwɛntɪˈtuː/

See synonyms for catch-22 on


  • A dilemma or difficult circumstance from which there is no escape because of mutually conflicting or dependent conditions.

    as modifier ‘a catch-22 situation’
    • ‘There's always been a bit of a catch 22 about golf - you need to have a handicap to join a club, yet it's very difficult to get that handicap in a civilised way without spending hours on a rain sodden driving range in some murky British suburb.’
    • ‘It is a catch-22 situation - without any big stars, the game is always going to have a low profile. But as long as it is low profile, it will struggle to produce big stars.’
    • ‘Are we in a catch 22 when in comes to leading a green lifestyle?’
    difficulty, issue, trouble, worry, complication, difficult situation, mess, muddle, mix-up


1960s title of a novel by Joseph Heller (1961), in which the main character feigns madness in order to avoid dangerous combat missions, but his desire to avoid them is taken to prove his sanity.