Longman Dictionary of Contemporary English homepage

Date: 1900-2000
Origin: Catch-22 book (1961) by Joseph Heller in which such situations are described

Catch-22

noun
     
Catch-22 [uncountable]
an impossible situation that you cannot solve because you need to do one thing in order to do a second thing, but you cannot do the second thing until you have done the first:
It's a Catch-22 situation - without experience you can't get a job and without a job you can't get experience.

Dictionary pictures of the day
Do you know what each of these is called?
What is the word for picture 1? What is the word for picture 2? What is the word for picture 3? What is the word for picture 4?
Click on any of the pictures above to find out what it is called.

Explore our topic dictionary