Also found in: Dictionary, Thesaurus, Medical, Legal, Wikipedia.
A negative situation that is constantly maintained or worsened, rather than resolved. Underdeveloped countries are often stuck in a vicious circle of poverty that their citizens can never overcome. I use my credit card because I don't make enough money to pay my bills, and as soon as I get paid, any extra money goes toward my credit card bill. That vicious circle is why I'm constantly broke!
*in a vicious circle
Fig. in a situation in which the solution of one problem leads to a second problem, and the solution of the second problem brings back the first problem, etc. (*Typically: be ~; get [into] ~.) Life is so strange. I seem to be in a vicious circle most of the time. I put lemon in my tea to make it sour, then sugar to make it sweet. I'm in a vicious circle. Don't let your life get into a vicious circle.
A series of events in which each problem creates another and worsens the original one. For example, The fatter I get, the unhappier I am, so I eat to cheer myself up, which makes me fatter yet-it's a vicious circle . This expression comes from the French cercle vicieux, which in philosophy means "a circular proof"-that is, the proof of one statement depends on a second statement, whose proof in turn depends on the first. One writer suggests that the English meaning of "vicious" helped the expression acquire its more pejorative present sense, used since 1839.
a vicious circle
COMMON If you describe a difficult situation as a vicious circle, you mean that one problem has caused other problems which, in turn, have made the original problem even worse. The economy couldn't create jobs because consumers weren't spending. Consumers weren't spending because the economy wasn't creating jobs. And this was the vicious circle we were caught in. According to the report, patients discharged from hospitals are being thrust into a vicious circle of poverty and illnesses. Note: This refers to the error in logic of trying to prove the truth of one statement by a second statement, which in turn relies on the first for proof. The expression is a translation of the Latin `circulus vitiosus', meaning `a flawed circular argument'.
a vicious ˈcirclea difficult situation or problem where one thing makes another thing happen, which then makes the first thing happen again: He spends too much on drink because he’s worried about his financial problems, and so the situation gets worse and worse. It’s a vicious circle.
mod. great; excellent. Man, this burger is really vicious.