Catch-22 (n)

If Joseph Heller is accurately quoted in the passage above, he understood on some level that the title of his novel Catch-22 would show up in the American vernacular as a designator of bureaucratic absurdity. It turns up everywhere in discourse in the United States, and as I sat down to write this context clues worksheet on the noun catch-22 (it’s Merriam-Webster’s Word of the Day today), I wondered whether or not there are users of this noun who don’t realize that it derives from the title of an esteemed American novel.

It’s a difficult locution to work into a context clues worksheet, because, while its meanings are interrelated, there are enough of them (“a problematic situation for which the only solution is denied by a circumstance inherent in the problem or by a rule”;  “an illogical, unreasonable, or senseless situation”;  “a measure or policy whose effect is the opposite of what was intended”; “a situation presenting two equally undesirable alternatives” and “a hidden difficulty or means of entrapment”) that this is arguably a polysemous word.

Anyway, catch-22 also sufficiently abstract that if I use this worksheet at all, it will be with somewhat more advanced students.

If you find typos in this document, I would appreciate a notification. And, as always, if you find this material useful in your practice, I would be grateful to hear what you think of it. I seek your peer review.

Leave a Reply

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.