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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
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May 8 Word of the Day
1. Slight sins or offenses
2. Petty crimes or small infractions
3. Las Vegas Punk Rock!
Peccadilloes shows rule.
by James Messina August 11, 2006
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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
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A requirement that cannot be met until a prerequisite requirement is met, however, the prerequisite cannot be obtained until the original requirement is met.
by Catch 22 June 04, 2003
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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
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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
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quite the predicament, where objective 1 cannot be obtained without the completion of objective 2, which cannot be obtained without objective 1, because of a set of often incoherent rules or laws
a catch 22:

what would happen if you went back in time to kill your grandfather?

if you were to do so, logic would state that you would not exist to go back in time and kill your grandfather, therefore you would exist because you would not be able to kill him, however you would exist only to kill your grandfather, in which case you would not exist
by CSS December 21, 2005
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