vicious cycle

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
Word Family
EDITOR’S CHOICE

Test prep from the experts

Boost your test score with programs developed by Vocabulary.com’s experts.

  • Proven methods: Learn faster, remember longer with our scientific approach.
  • Personalized plan: We customize your experience to maximize your learning.
  • Strategic studying: Focus on the words that are most crucial for success.

SAT/PSAT

$29.95
  • Number of words: 500+
  • Duration: 8 weeks or less
  • Time: 1 hour / week

TOEFL

$29.95
  • Number of words: 500+
  • Duration: 10 weeks or less
  • Time: 1 hour / week

ACT

$29.95
  • Number of words: 700+
  • Duration: 10 weeks
  • Time: 1 hour / week