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catch-22 (kach twen-tee TOO) noun

A situation marked by contradiction, absurdity, or paradox, where a solution is impossible to achieve.

[From Catch-22, a novel by Joseph Heller.]

In this World War II novel, an air force regulation states that a man is to be considered insane if he is willing to continue to fly dangerous missions. To be relieved of such duties all he has to do is ask. But one who makes such a rational request shows that he is, in fact, sane. Here is an extract from the novel. -Anu

    Doc Daneeka said, "He (Orr) has to be crazy to keep flying combat missions after all the close calls he's had. Sure I can ground Orr. But first he has to ask me to."
    "That's all he has to do to be grounded?"
    "That's all. Let him ask me."
    "And then you can ground him?" Yossarian asked.
    "No, then I can't ground him."
    "You mean there's a catch?"
    "Sure there is a catch," Doc Daneeka replied. "Catch-22. Anyone who wants to get out of combat duty isn't really crazy."
"Yet ask members of the public what they think about street sellers, and the most virtuous will respond that they should be banned from the city streets. Yet the sellers do a roaring trade, and could not do so unless their goods and services met a substantial public need. Some solution to this Catch 22 situation is long overdue ..."
Word From the Streets: The Plight of the Informal Sector; The National (Papua New Guinea); May 19, 2003.

"The players involved say it's too early to talk about it, which leads to a catch-22. If you wait until it becomes a pertinent issue, it may no longer even be an issue."
Tony Jackson; Reds Ponder Rare Slugging Trio; Sebastian Sun (Florida);

This week's theme: numeric terms.


Music was invented to confirm human loneliness. -Lawrence Durrell, novelist and poet (1912-1990)

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