A cycle is a series of events that happen repeatedly in the same order. Or, it is a slang term for a bicycle. If you ride a cycle to work, we suggest putting your clothes through the wash cycle twice — or wear strong cologne.

We get cycle from Latin cyclus and Greek kuklos, both meaning "circle." So you can see where bi- (two) and tri- (three) + cycle got their names. Nowadays, cycle can be a verb or a noun: You can ride a cycle or you can cycle to the park. The same holds true when you’re talking about a sequence of repeating events: The seasons cycle through spring, summer, fall, and winter. The plant life cycle goes from seed to flower to seed dispersal.

Primary Meanings of cycle

a periodically repeated sequence of events
recur in repeating sequences
a wheeled vehicle that has two wheels and is moved by foot pedals
ride a motorcycle
a series of poems or songs on the same theme
Full Definitions of cycle

n a periodically repeated sequence of events

“a cycle of reprisal and retaliation”
a never-ending cycle of activities and events (especially when they seem to have little purpose)
(Hinduism and Buddhism) the endless cycle of birth and suffering and death and rebirth
Type of:
repeat, repetition
an event that repeats

n a single complete execution of a periodically repeated phenomenon

“a year constitutes a cycle of the seasons”
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cardiac cycle
the complete cycle of events in the heart from the beginning of one heart beat to the beginning of the next; an electrical impulse conducted through the heart muscle that constricts the atria which is followed by constriction of the ventricles
Carnot cycle, Carnot's ideal cycle
a cycle (of expansion and compression) of an idealized reversible heat engine that does work without loss of heat
one complete cycle of operations (as by a computer)
menstrual cycle
a recurring cycle (beginning at menarche and ending at menopause) in which the endometrial lining of the uterus prepares for pregnancy; if pregnancy does not occur the lining is shed at menstruation
Type of:
periodic event, recurrent event
an event that recurs at intervals

n the unit of frequency; one hertz has a periodic interval of one second

Hz, cps, cycle per second, cycles/second, hertz
Type of:
a magnitude or frequency relative to a time unit

n an interval during which a recurring sequence of events occurs

“the never-ending cycle of the seasons”
rhythm, round
Type of:
interval, time interval
a definite length of time marked off by two instants

v recur in repeating sequences

Type of:
recur, repeat
happen or occur again

v cause to go through a recurring sequence

cycle the laundry in this washing program”
cause to repeat a cycle
Type of:
make pass, pass
cause to pass

v pass through a cycle

“This machine automatically cycles
cycle on
come to the starting point of a cycle
Type of:
go across, go through, pass
go across or through

n a wheeled vehicle that has two wheels and is moved by foot pedals

bicycle, bike, wheel
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bicycle-built-for-two, tandem, tandem bicycle
a bicycle with two sets of pedals and two seats
all-terrain bike, mountain bike, off-roader
a bicycle with a sturdy frame and fat tires; originally designed for riding in mountainous country
ordinary, ordinary bicycle
an early bicycle with a very large front wheel and small back wheel
a bicycle that must be pedaled
safety bicycle, safety bike
bicycle that has two wheels of equal size; pedals are connected to the rear wheel by a multiplying gear
any of several early bicycles with pedals on the front wheel
Type of:
wheeled vehicle
a vehicle that moves on wheels and usually has a container for transporting things or people

v ride a motorcycle

motorbike, motorcycle
Type of:
be carried or travel on or in a vehicle

v ride a bicycle

bicycle, bike, pedal, wheel
ride a unicycle
pedal backwards on a bicycle
Type of:
be carried or travel on or in a vehicle

n a series of poems or songs on the same theme

“Schubert's song cycles
Type of:
similar things placed in order or happening one after another

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