The Phrase "Catch 22"

My girlfriend is currently reading “Catch 22” and asked me if the phrase existed before the book was written. I had no idea.

I tried searching, but “22” is too small to go through the search engine, so if it has been asked before I do apologise. Did the book “Catch 22” invent the phrase “Catch 22” or did it exist beforehand?

The book caused the phrase to be coined, as far as I know.

Catch 22 invented Catch 22.

From the [url=""American Heritage Dictionary,

Let’s try that link again.

Catch 22

I remember reading (I don’t have the cite but I’ll try to find it), that it wasn’t originally going to be Catch-22. It was supposed to be some other number. Then the publisher found out that another book with the same number in the title was being published the same season. In order to avoid confusion between the two books, he convinced Heller to changed the number.

Thanks everyone. I’ll let my girlfriend know err … tomorrow. She appears to have fallen asleep.

As noted in the link provided by Khadaji, the book was originally supposed to be entitled Catch-18. Then, as publication neared, Leon Uris came out with a new novel called Mila 18, and the publisher did not want any kind of marketplace confusion.

Heller was beside himself, having grown quite attached to the Catch-18 moniker, and of course, the first chapter had already been published several years earlier in a literary magazine under that title. Unable to choose a new number, Heller told his editor to do so for him. The editor, of course, chose 22. Heller agreed because it reminded him of the dual nature of the “catch” (roughly, damned if you do and damned if you don’t), and so changed, it went to press.

All from memory, but I did write my master’s thesis in large part on Catch-22. That’s some catch, that catch-22. :slight_smile:

It’s the best there is.

There were a number of “Catch-22’s” but the one I connected with …

It was of no use to feign insanity to avoid going on missions. That only showed that you were rational enough to be afraid, ergo sane. On the other hand it didn’t help if you were really crazy because who else would go?

And everybody has a share!

I remember an interview with Heller where he talked about the original Catch 22 that inspired him. IIRC, it was at some military academy where there was a rule that uniforms would not be dry cleaned unless they had all the buttons firmly attached. They also had a rule that stated uniforms could not be submitted for tailoring unless they had been dry cleaned. Therefore, how could you get your buttons fixed if your uniform was dirty and could not be submitted for dry cleaning because it had loose buttons…

Oddly, I remember him being interviewed on Letterman…anyone else see this, or did I imagine it?

And you can only see me in my office when I’m not in my office.