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vicious circle

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!
See also: circle, vicious

*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.
See also: circle, vicious

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.
See also: circle, vicious

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'.
See also: circle, vicious

a vicious ˈcircle

a 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.
See also: circle, vicious


mod. great; excellent. Man, this burger is really vicious.
References in periodicals archive ?
During the 1800 presidential election, several clergymen in New England viciously attacked him during church services, branding Jefferson an infidel and an atheist who would, if elected, order all Bibles gathered up and burned.
Eltringham traces the speculations about the secretions' antibiotic powers to observations that hippo wounds tend not to get infected, even though male hippos fight viciously over territory.
A young couple were viciously attacked by youths wielding baseball bats as they sat in a car on wasteground, police said yesterday.
Unlike their subdued cousin, the European honeybee, AHBs are viciously territorial: Take one step too close to a colony and the bees attack
Then, he proceeded to burn what little capital remained in his possession by viciously attacking a popular president, instead of letting the media do the dirty work of impeachment.
An intelligent, proud, angry, violent, light-complexioned black man, Himes also confesses in his autobiography and suggests in some of the interviews to having "always been something of a snob" and hurting, sometimes viciously, others, especially women.
While the yet-to-be built restaurant was viciously fought by the community, the company itself simply outgrew the space over the last few years and is searching for bigger and better digs in other Manhattan Island locations.
A desert can be a ravishingly beautiful but very treacherous place: brutally hot by day, viciously cold at night.
His father, John William Thurmond, became a state senator and ally of "Pitchfork" Ben Tillman, the charismatic, viciously racist South Carolina governor and senator whom six-year-old Strom met and idolized.
Back on April 13, 1992, Beckwith - identifying himself only as "Dave" - called a San Antonio radio talk-show to viciously berate Kimberlin, who was being interviewed on-air from prison.
We were able to prove that the School District and Sangster not only discriminated against these men because they were white, in violation of state and federal laws, but that they also viciously retaliated against them after they complained about the race discrimination and tried to get their jobs back," Homans said.
By ALANA FEARON GARDAI are closing in on a sex attacker who broke into a house and viciously raped a woman.
A MAN was viciously assaulted by several revellers at a private function in a Dublin hotel early yesterday.
An Indian woman who was viciously assaulted and robbed in her own home is continuing to make a steady recovery in hospital and has now been released from the Intensive Care Unit.
DURIAN, a heavy, viciously spiky fruit, is said to taste like heaven but to smell like hell.