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.