vicious circle


Definition of vicious circle

1 : an argument or definition that begs the question
2 : a chain of events in which the response to one difficulty creates a new problem that aggravates the original difficulty

called also vicious cycle

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Vicious circle originally referred to a circular argument, that is, an argument that assumes the conclusion as one of its premises. That sense was first documented around the end of the 18th century. Approximately 50 years later, vicious circle acquired the now more common "chain of events" sense as people began to think of the circle as a metaphorical circle rather than a circular argument. Today, vicious cycle is a common variant for the "chain of events" sense. Vicious spiral, in which the ill effects are cumulative as well as self-aggravating, puts in an occasional appearance as well.

Examples of vicious circle in a Sentence

We're trapped in a vicious circle.
Recent Examples on the Web In a vicious circle, the more the local officials lied about their output, the higher the central government set the quotas. Helen Raleigh, WSJ, 21 Sep. 2022 Yet, this scenario is no fait accompli and the means to break the vicious circle already lie in our hands. Paul Hockenos, CNN, 22 July 2022 That is a vicious circle that Lilium says its prototypes will avoid with new battery technologies. Rohit Jaggi, Robb Report, 15 Aug. 2022 This, in turn, further increases Europe’s dependence on the U.S., and further entrenches the continent’s weakness, resulting in a vicious circle. Tom Mctague, The Atlantic, 8 Aug. 2022 The sneaky way is to let inflation do its thing having stopped printing new money and watch inflation grind to a halt as no new money drives its vicious circle. Clem Chambers, Forbes, 21 June 2022 This is the vicious circle, presumably an iron logic that condemns us all to ever more unbearable summers. Paul Hockenos, CNN, 22 July 2022 This is the vicious circle that feeds short tenures. Jc Gaillard, Forbes, 19 May 2022 Many might be all the rage at one point only to enter a vicious circle and ultimately collapse. Christiaan Hetzner, Fortune, 12 May 2022 See More

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'vicious circle.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

First Known Use of vicious circle

circa 1792, in the meaning defined at sense 1

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Time Traveler for vicious circle

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The first known use of vicious circle was circa 1792

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Dictionary Entries Near vicious circle


vicious circle

vicious circle principle

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Last Updated

28 Sep 2022

Cite this Entry

“Vicious circle.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 4 Oct. 2022.

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