vicious cycle

/ˌvɪʃəs ˌsaɪkəl/

/ˈvɪʃɪs ˈsaɪkəl/

A vicious cycle is a negative series of events that build on and reinforce each other. If you can’t you can’t get a job without experience, but you can’t get experience without a job, then you are in a vicious cycle.

You can also call it a vicious circle — either way, it's a kind of loop in which an event has a consequence that not only keeps it going, but strengthens the original event or action. Ultimately the entire cycle starts all over again. An example of a vicious cycle is when you can't sign in without your password, but you can’t get your password without signing in. For a solution, you need to find a way to break the cycle — by contacting IT support, perhaps.

Definitions of vicious cycle
  1. noun
    one trouble leads to another that aggravates the first
    synonyms: vicious circle
    see moresee less
    type of:
    positive feedback, regeneration
    feedback in phase with (augmenting) the input
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