Catch 22

You’ll hear Americans say ‘this is a catch 22″ and chance are you have no idea what that might mean.  I didn’t.  To be in a catch 22 (situation) means you are in the very unenviable position that one thing must happen in order for a second thing to happen but since the first thing doesn’t happen the second will neither.

There are a couple of typical catch 22 situations:

Job seeker: “I can’t get a job without a place to stay and I can’t find a place to stay without a job.  It’s a catch 22.”

Another job seeker:  “I need a job to obtain a visa but in this economic environment nobody is going to give me a job without a visa.  Complete catch 22.”

The idiom can be used in casual as well as in business conversation. It is derived from the book  Catch 22 by Joseph Heller about the experiences of an American pilot.

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