epicycle

noun

epi·​cy·​cle ˈe-pə-ˌsī-kəl How to pronounce epicycle (audio)
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
epicyclic adjective

Examples of epicycle in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web Amid these complications, Tomas proves to be a spontaneous provocateur, producing further epicycles of enmity and turmoil. Richard Brody, The New Yorker, 8 Aug. 2023 The Ptolemaic model depicted planets moving around Earth in a big circle, known as a deferent, then going around a smaller circle while retrograding, called an epicycle. Carlie Procell, USA Today, 19 Apr. 2023 In order to reconcile circular orbits with actual planetary behavior, Copernicus continued the tradition, developed by Ptolemy, of arguing that planets spin on wheels, known as epicycles. National Geographic, 9 Apr. 2019

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'epicycle.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History

Etymology

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

First Known Use

14th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1

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

Dictionary Entries Near epicycle

Cite this Entry

“Epicycle.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/epicycle. Accessed 24 Feb. 2024.

Kids Definition

epicycle

noun
epi·​cy·​cle ˈep-ə-ˌsī-kəl How to pronounce epicycle (audio)
: a circle according to an early astronomy theory 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

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