go (a)round in circles

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go (a)round in circles

To waste one's time and energy engaging in trivial, aimless, or futile activities and failing to make any progress as a result. I tried to get an outline drafted for my thesis, but my ideas were so jumbled in my head that I just kept going round in circles. The committee spent all afternoon trying to come up with a new PR proposal, but they went around in circles the whole time.
See also: circle

go (a)round in circles

1. Lit. to move over and over on a circular path. The model plane went around in circles until it ran out of fuel. The oxen went around in circles, pulling along a beam that was connected to the millstone.
2. Fig. to act in a confused and disoriented manner. I've been going around in circles all day. The children have been going around in circles, waiting for you to arrive.
3. Fig. to keep going over the same ideas or repeating the same actions, often resulting in confusion, without reaching a satisfactory decision or conclusion. We're just going round in circles discussing the problem. We need to consult someone else to get a new point of view. Fred's trying to find out what's happened but he's going round in circles. No one will tell him anything useful.
See also: circle, round

go around in circles


go round in circles

If someone goes around in circles or goes round in circles, they achieve little because they repeatedly deal with the same point or problem. This was one of those debates which simply went round in circles. My mind was going around in circles.
See also: around, circle