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22.
In layman's terms it pretty much means "Damned if you do and damned if you don't" either way you're gonna get screwed.
Season 3, Episode 17: Catch-22
In the ABC TV show "Lost"by J.J. Abrams

Desmond can see the future and his latest vision suggests that his girlfriend Penny will crash-land onto the island. The vision also suggests that Charlie will die if he comes along with Desmond to rescue her, but Charlie must come along to make the vision come true.
(Season Three: Original Air Date: 18 April 2007)
by bubblybug May 08, 2007
32 36
 
1.
A requirement that cannot be met until a prerequisite requirement is met, however, the prerequisite cannot be obtained until the original requirement is met.
My life is one big Catch 22
by Catch 22 June 04, 2003
1265 192
 
2.
1)A situation in which a desired outcome or solution is impossible to attain because of a set of inherently illogical rules or conditions.

2) A contradictory or self-defeating course of action.

3) Novel by Joseph Heller.
"You're wasting your time," Doc Daneeka was forced to tell him.
"Can't you ground someone's who's crazy?"

"Oh sure, I have to. There's a rule saying I have to ground anyone who's crazy."

"Then why don't you ground me. Ask Clevinger."

"Clevinger? Where is Clevinger? You find Clevinger and I'll ask him."

"Then ask any of the others. They'll tell you how crazy I am."

"They're crazy."

"Then why don't you ground them?"

"Why don't they ask me to ground them?"

"Because they're crazy, that's why."

"Of course they're crazy," Doc Daneeka replied. "I just told you they're crazy didn't I? And you can't let crazy people decide whether you're crazy or not can you?"

Yossarian looked at him soberly and tried another approach. "Is Orr crazy?"
"He sure is," Doc Daneeka said.

"Can you ground him?"

"I sure can but first he has to ask me to. That's part of the rule."

"Then why doesn't he ask you to?"

"Because he's crazy," Doc Daneeka said. "He 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."

There was only one catch and that was Catch-22, that specified that a concern for one's own safety in the face of dangers that were real and immediate was the process of a rational mind. Orr was crazy and could be grounded. All he had to do was ask; and as soon as he did, he would no longer be crazy and would have to fly more missions. Orr would be crazy to fly more missions and sane if he didn't, but if he was sane, he had to fly them. Yossarian was moved very deeply by the absolute simplicity of the clause of Catch-22 and let out a respectful whistle.
"That's some catch, that Catch-22," he observed.

"It's the best there is," Doc Daneeka replied.
by zopwx2 June 20, 2004
718 104
 
3.
Also known as a vicious cycle - two or more conditions require the other conditions to be fulfilled, but these other conditions also require the original condition to be fulfilled. In simple terms, this means neither can get fulfilled without the other. A needs B needs A.
So I need a key to open this door, and the key is beyond that same door? Damn, this is one big Catch 22.
by Fluid August 27, 2003
563 76
 
4.
A situtation where you have two possible choices, either of which while have negative ramifications for you.
There was only one catch and that was Catch-22, which specified that a concern for one's safety in the face of dangers that were real and immediate was the process of a rational mind. Orr was crazy and could be grounded. All he had to do was ask; and as soon as he did, he would no longer be crazy and would have to fly more missions. Orr would be crazy to fly more missions and sane if he didn't, but if he was sane he had to fly them. If he flew them he was crazy and didn't have to; but if he didn't want to he was sane and had to. Yossarian was moved very deeply by the absolute simplicity of this clause of Catch-22 and let out a respectful whistle.
"That's some catch, that Catch-22," he observed.
"It's the best there is," Doc Daneeka agreed.
by Khelek May 31, 2003
500 210
 
5.
A no-win dilemma or paradox, similar to damned if I do, damned if I don't.
A situation or predicament characterized by absurdity or senselessness.
by you think? March 19, 2005
242 75
 
6.
The word Catch-22 was coined from the Joeseph Heller novel "Catch-22", a humorous satire about WWII pilots. Catch-22 is used when pilots try to get out of bombing duty. It is military law that anyone insane is allowed to be ejected from the army on honorary-leave. However, if the pilot asks to be ejected because he is insane, that shows personal concern for his own safety, and thusly he must not be insane, and connot leave. This ensured that all pilots could not get out of the military on charges of insanity. There are no other catches, just Catch-22.

Today, Cath-22 generally refers to:

1. A situation which will deal negative results no matter what choice is made.
2. The WWII book which deals with this catch and carries the same title.
3. The rock band
1. "If I leave, my parents are going to kill me, but if I don't, my girlfriend will dump me. This is a real Catch-22."
2. You should read Catch-22 by Joeseph Heller. It's very funny.
3. I just saw Catch-22 live last night!
by Gretel MK II September 01, 2005
277 113
 
7.
Catch-22 is a famous anti-war novel written by Joseph Heller. In the book, a catch-22 refers to the law that allows soldiers to raid an Italian whorehouse. The very same law that gives them the right to make this intrusion also entitles them to conceal why they are raiding it in a first place, so the proprieter can never find out why it happened. This is compared to an earlier reference in the book, where a military policy requires that soldiers can only be discharged for insanity if they are both insane and ask for discharge. However, asking for discharge if you are insane is a sane act, so you cannot be insane. Therefore, getting a discharge for insanity is actually impossible.

A catch-22 is commonly misperceived to be a situation wherein both options are seen to have negative consequences. That situation is actually called a double-edged sword. A catch-22, as in the examples above, is a situation wherein the solution to a problem is impossible given the very nature of the problem.
My university has asked me to transfer because they expel anyone with a GPA under a 2.0, yet I cannot transfer because no other college will take an applicant with less than a 2.0! This policy is such a catch-22!
by LastGrammarian March 18, 2007
182 49