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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 classic literature ?
So unexpected had been my act that it found him and his fellow unprepared; but instantly the latter drew the knife that protruded from his belt and lunged viciously at me, at the same time giving voice to a wild cry of alarm.
Thomas Mugridge backed away, glaring as hatefully and viciously as I glared.
They were disputing about the misappropriation of certain sums and the laying of certain pipes, and Sergey Ivanovitch was very cutting to two members, and said something at great length with an air of triumph; and another member, scribbling something on a bit of paper, began timidly at first, but afterwards answered him very viciously and delightfully.
I found him sitting in a snug corner of the hall, consulting his memorandum book, and curling up viciously at the corners of the lips.
He came towards us, slashing viciously at the flowers with his riding-whip.
I wouldn't,' said Miggs viciously, 'no, not for five-and-forty pound
The key,' said the dwarf, looking viciously about him, 'the door-key--that's the matter.
A court heard Capt Gold sprang into action after seeing lover Martin Edwards, 43, and friend Gary Pincott, 55, viciously beat her unconscious and roll her into the river.
Instead of raising his son and taking care of him, he viciously beat him and left him receiving oxygen and food from a tube in hospital.
A 91-YEAR-old man has died in hospital weeks after he was viciously attacked during a raid at his home in Warwickshire.
Believing that the modern game needs a similar edge to grab fans, McEnroe, a BBC pundit, said that that it would be nice to see players going at their games more viciously like he had in his clashes with Connors or Lendl, although he added that many players of today find it hard to show aggressiveness as it is not their style.
The Gloucester Old Spot pigs, who were viciously beaten with bricks and fence posts in their pen at Greenfield Valley Heritage Park in Holywell last summer, had faced being slaughtered until senior warden Jo Graham stepped in.
Summary: Families of two young boys, viciously attacked by two brothers, sobbed as mobile phone footage of the attack was played in court.
Summary: The Australian Dollar traveled viciously upward as fears of a resurgence in commodity prices took hold over investor sentiment.
To allow an animal to walk free after viciously asaulting Mr Harker a security guard who was only doing his job.