epi·cy·cle | \ˈe-pə-ˌsī-kəl \

Definition of epicycle 

1 in Ptolemaic astronomy : a circle in which a planet moves and which has a center that is itself carried around at the same time on the circumference of a larger circle

2 : a process going on within a larger one

Other Words from epicycle

epicyclic \ˌe-pə-ˈsī-klik, -ˈsi-klik \ adjective

First Known Use of epicycle

14th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for epicycle

Middle English epicicle, from Late Latin epicyclus, from Greek epikyklos, from epi- + kyklos circle — more at wheel

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about epicycle

Statistics for epicycle

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for epicycle

The first known use of epicycle was in the 14th century

See more words from the same century

More from Merriam-Webster on epicycle

See words that rhyme with epicycle

Britannica.com: Encyclopedia article about epicycle

Comments on epicycle

What made you want to look up epicycle? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


to reject or criticize sharply

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

Words from Greek and Roman Mythology Quiz

  • the-triumph-of-venus-by-alessandro-magnasco
  • Boreal comes from the name of the ancient Greek god of which wind?
How Strong Is Your Vocabulary?

Test your vocabulary with our 10-question quiz!

Bee Cubed

Test Your Knowledge - and learn some interesting things along the way.


Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!