vicious circle

noun
|Updated on: 12 Jul 2018

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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Examples of vicious circle in a Sentence

  1. We're trapped in a vicious circle.

Recent Examples of vicious circle from the Web

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.

Did You Know?

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.

First Known Use of vicious circle

circa 1792

in the meaning defined at sense 1

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VICIOUS CIRCLE Defined for English Language Learners

vicious circle

Definition of vicious circle for English Language Learners

  • : a repeating situation or condition in which one problem causes another problem that makes the first problem worse


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