Thoughts on everyday terms we use without thinking

Posted By on April 4, 2020

Catch22In a business meeting decades ago, Brenda used the term “Catch-22” without giving the etymology much thought. After the meeting, a older senior executive came up to her and commented that he was surprised to hear a 30-year old using the term “Catch-22” … and then asked if she knew it’s history. She did no, so he proceeded to enlighten her (she was not really interested and his “reference to the military” explanation escaped her).

She used it again the other day and then paused to ask if I knew where it came from? I spieled off something about the 1961 Joseph Heller book called “Catch-22” and the 1970 movie about the “lunacy of military decision-making.” I guess I really didn’t know. Neither of us were aware IF the term was really used in the military or if it stemmed only from the novel? (Answer: link)

So for me, it was worth reading and blogging a bit more about the term … and decided to add the movie to our Amazon Prime movie list.


Although Heller uses several circular and repetitive formulations throughout his novel that revolve around a WW2 Air Squadron, here’s a civilian example of a “Catch-22:”

In needing experience to get a job…

"How can I get any experience until I get a job that gives me experience?"

– Brantley Foster in The Secret of My Success.


Desultory - des-uhl-tawr-ee, -tohr-ee

  1. lacking in consistency, constancy, or visible order, disconnected; fitful: desultory conversation.
  2. digressing from or unconnected with the main subject; random: a desultory remark.