# Circle vs. Cycle: What's the Difference?

Edited by Aimie Carlson || By Janet White || Updated on October 8, 2023
A "Circle" is a round shape or a group of people/things, while a "Cycle" denotes a series of events that repeat in a specific order.

## Key Differences

The term "Circle" primarily denotes a geometric shape, symmetrical and round, equidistant in all directions from the center point. The word "Cycle," conversely, conveys a repetitive sequence of events or stages, often leading back to the starting point, albeit metaphorically.
In mathematics or geometry, the circle is fundamental, defined by its radius and circumference, exhibiting perfect roundness. Meanwhile, cycle encapsulates a sense of periodicity and recurrence, such as in the water cycle, showcasing an ongoing, repetitive series of changes or stages.
"Circles" are also found in casual language, often depicting a social sphere or group, such as a circle of friends. "Cycle," beyond physical repetitions, may symbolize more abstract, systemic, or procedural recurrences, elucidating processes in nature, mechanics, or systems.
For the circle, social, geometric, or other contexts present a tangible or metaphorical roundness or wholeness. Yet for cycles, the essence lies in progression and regression through a set of defined stages, illustrating mechanisms like life cycles or economic cycles.
Expressing a circle, you might visualize or discuss smoothness, completeness, and a lack of angles or edges. In contrast, the concept of a cycle often requires acknowledgment of stages, processes, and the inevitability of repetition, highlighting perpetual movement through a sequence.

## Comparison Chart

### Basic Definition

A round shape or group
A series of events that repeat

### Geometric Context

Defined by its radius and circumference
Does not have geometric attributes

### Social Context

Can denote a group or social sphere
Not commonly used to describe groups

### Natural Science

Rarely used in a scientific process
Often used to describe processes in nature

### Repetition

Does not inherently imply repetition
Fundamentally implies a repeating sequence

## Circle and Cycle Definitions

#### Circle

A specific group of people sharing interests or activities.
She invited her reading circle to discuss the new book.

#### Cycle

A series of events that recur regularly and usually lead back to the starting point.
The water cycle describes water’s journey through different states and locations.

#### Circle

To enclose or encompass an area or object.
The teacher drew a circle around the correct answer.

#### Cycle

A set period of time in which a sequence of a recurring succession of events or phenomena is completed.
The economic cycle experiences periods of growth and recession.

#### Circle

A loop, or something forming a rounded shape.

#### Cycle

To proceed through a sequence or series.
The traffic light cycled through its colors systematically.

#### Circle

A series or process that doesn’t result in forward progression.
They felt trapped in a vicious circle of debt.

#### Cycle

An interval of time during which a characteristic, often regularly repeated event or sequence of events occurs
Sunspots increase and decrease in intensity in an 11-year cycle.

#### Circle

A plane curve everywhere equidistant from a given fixed point, the center.

#### Cycle

A single complete execution of a periodically repeated phenomenon
A year constitutes a cycle of the seasons.

#### Circle

A planar region bounded by a circle.

#### Cycle

A periodically repeated sequence of events
The cycle of birth, growth, and death.
A cycle of reprisal and retaliation.

#### Circle

Something, such as a ring, shaped like such a plane curve.

#### Cycle

The orbit of a celestial body.

#### Circle

A circular or nearly circular course, circuit, or orbit:a satellite's circle around the earth.

#### Cycle

A long period of time; an age.

#### Circle

A traffic circle.

#### Cycle

The aggregate of traditional poems or stories organized around a central theme or hero
The Arthurian cycle.

#### Circle

A series or process that finishes at its starting point or continuously repeats itself; a cycle.

#### Cycle

A series of poems or songs on the same theme
Schubert's song cycles.

#### Circle

A group of people sharing an interest, activity, or achievement:well-known in artistic circles.

#### Cycle

A bicycle, motorcycle, or similar vehicle.

#### Circle

A territorial or administrative division, especially of a province, in some European countries.

#### Cycle

(Botany) A circular or whorled arrangement of flower parts such as those of petals or sepals.

#### Circle

A sphere of influence or interest; domain.

#### Cycle

(Baseball) The achievement of hitting a single, double, triple, and home run in a single game.

#### Circle

(Logic)A vicious circle.

#### Cycle

To occur in or pass through a cycle.

#### Circle

To make or form a circle around:The hedge circles the fountain.

#### Cycle

To move in or as if in a cycle.

#### Circle

To move in a circle around:The ship circled the island.

#### Cycle

To ride a bicycle, motorcycle, or similar vehicle.

#### Circle

To move in a circle.

#### Cycle

To use in or put through a cycle
Cycled the heavily soiled laundry twice.
Cycling the recruits through eight weeks of basic training.

#### Circle

(geometry) A two-dimensional geometric figure, a line, consisting of the set of all those points in a plane that are equally distant from a given point (center).
The set of all points (x, y) such that {{(x
R2}} is a circle of radius r around the point (1, 0).

#### Cycle

An interval of space or time in which one set of events or phenomena is completed.
The cycle of the seasons, or of the year

#### Circle

A two-dimensional geometric figure, a disk, consisting of the set of all those points of a plane at a distance less than or equal to a fixed distance (radius) from a given point.

#### Cycle

A complete rotation of anything.

#### Circle

Any shape, curve or arrangement of objects that approximates to or resembles the geometric figures.
Children, please join hands and form a circle.

#### Cycle

A process that returns to its beginning and then repeats itself in the same sequence.
Electoral cycle
Menstrual cycle
News cycle

#### Circle

Any thin three-dimensional equivalent of the geometric figures.
Cut a circle out of that sheet of metal.

#### Cycle

The members of the sequence formed by such a process.

#### Circle

A curve that more or less forms part or all of a circle.
The crank moves in a circle.

#### Cycle

(music) In musical set theory, an interval cycle is the set of pitch classes resulting from repeatedly applying the same interval class to the starting pitch class.
The interval cycle C4 consists of the pitch classes 0, 4 and 8; when starting on E, it is realised as the pitches E, G# and C.

#### Circle

A specific group of persons; especially one who shares a common interest.
Inner circle
Circle of friends
Literary circle

#### Cycle

A series of poems, songs or other works of art, typically longer than a trilogy.
The "Ring of the Nibelung" is a cycle of four operas by Richard Wagner.

#### Circle

The orbit of an astronomical body.

#### Cycle

A programme on a washing machine, dishwasher, or other such device.
Put the washing in on a warm cycle.
The spin cycle

#### Circle

(cricket) A line comprising two semicircles of 30 yards radius centred on the wickets joined by straight lines parallel to the pitch used to enforce field restrictions in a one-day match.

#### Cycle

A pedal-powered vehicle, such as a unicycle, bicycle, or tricycle, or a motorized vehicle that has either two or three wheels.

#### Circle

(Wicca) A ritual circle that is cast three times deosil and closes three times widdershins either in the air with a wand or literally with stones or other items used for worship.

#### Cycle

(baseball) A single, a double, a triple, and a home run hit by the same player in the same game.
Jones hit for the cycle in the game.

#### Cycle

(graph theory) A closed walk or path, with or without repeated vertices allowed.

#### Circle

(obsolete) Compass; circuit; enclosure.

#### Cycle

A chain whose boundary is zero.

#### Circle

(astronomy) An instrument of observation, whose graduated limb consists of an entire circle. When fixed to a wall in an observatory, it is called a mural circle; when mounted with a telescope on an axis and in Y's, in the plane of the meridian, a meridian or transit circle; when involving the principle of reflection, like the sextant, a reflecting circle; and when that of repeating an angle several times continuously along the graduated limb, a repeating circle.

#### Cycle

An imaginary circle or orbit in the heavens; one of the celestial spheres.

#### Circle

A series ending where it begins, and repeating itself.

#### Cycle

An age; a long period of time.

#### Circle

(logic) A form of argument in which two or more unproved statements are used to prove each other; inconclusive reasoning.

#### Cycle

An orderly list for a given time; a calendar.

#### Circle

Indirect form of words; circumlocution.

#### Cycle

(botany) One entire round in a circle or a spire.

#### Circle

A territorial division or district.
The ten Circles of the Holy Roman Empire were those principalities or provinces which had seats in the German Diet.

#### Cycle

(weaponry) A discharge of a taser.

#### Circle

(in the plural) A bagginess of the skin below the eyes from lack of sleep.
After working all night, she had circles under her eyes.

#### Cycle

(aviation) One take-off and landing of an aircraft, referring to a pressurisation cycle which places stresses on the fuselage.

#### Circle

(transitive) To travel around along a curved path.
The wolves circled the herd of deer.

#### Cycle

To ride a bicycle or other cycle.

#### Circle

(transitive) To surround.
A high fence circles the enclosure.

#### Cycle

To go through a cycle or to put through a cycle.

#### Circle

(transitive) To place or mark a circle around.
Circle the jobs that you are interested in applying for.

#### Cycle

(electronics) To turn power off and back on
Avoid cycling the device unnecessarily.

#### Circle

(intransitive) To travel in circles.

#### Cycle

(ice hockey) To maintain a team's possession of the puck in the offensive zone by handling and passing the puck in a loop from the boards near the goal up the side boards and passing to back to the boards near the goal
They have their cycling game going tonight.

#### Circle

A plane figure, bounded by a single curve line called its circumference, every part of which is equally distant from a point within it, called the center.

#### Cycle

An imaginary circle or orbit in the heavens; one of the celestial spheres.

#### Circle

The line that bounds such a figure; a circumference; a ring.

#### Cycle

An interval of time in which a certain succession of events or phenomena is completed, and then returns again and again, uniformly and continually in the same order; a periodical space of time marked by the recurrence of something peculiar; as, the cycle of the seasons, or of the year.
Wages . . . bear a full proportion . . . to the medium of provision during the last bad cycle of twenty years.

#### Circle

An instrument of observation, the graduated limb of which consists of an entire circle.

#### Cycle

An age; a long period of time.
Better fifty years of Europe than a cycle of Cathay.

#### Circle

A round body; a sphere; an orb.
It is he that sitteth upon the circle of the earth.

#### Cycle

An orderly list for a given time; a calendar.
We . . . present our gardeners with a complete cycle of what is requisite to be done throughout every month of the year.

#### Circle

Compass; circuit; inclosure.
In the circle of this forest.

#### Cycle

The circle of subjects connected with the exploits of the hero or heroes of some particular period which have served as a popular theme for poetry, as the legend of Arthur and the knights of the Round Table, and that of Charlemagne and his paladins.

#### Circle

A company assembled, or conceived to assemble, about a central point of interest, or bound by a common tie; a class or division of society; a coterie; a set.
As his name gradually became known, the circle of his acquaintance widened.

#### Cycle

One entire round in a circle or a spire; as, a cycle or set of leaves.

#### Circle

A circular group of persons; a ring.

#### Cycle

A bicycle or tricycle, or other light velocipede.

#### Circle

A series ending where it begins, and repeating itself.
Thus in a circle runs the peasant's pain.

A motorcycle.

#### Circle

A form of argument in which two or more unproved statements are used to prove each other; inconclusive reasoning.
That heavy bodies descend by gravity; and, again, that gravity is a quality whereby a heavy body descends, is an impertinent circle and teaches nothing.

#### Cycle

A series of operations in which heat is imparted to (or taken away from) a working substance which by its expansion gives up a part of its internal energy in the form of mechanical work (or being compressed increases its internal energy) and is again brought back to its original state.

#### Circle

Indirect form of words; circumlocution.
Has he given the lie,In circle, or oblique, or semicircle.

#### Cycle

A complete positive and negative, or forward and reverse, action of any periodic process, such as a vibration, an electric field oscillation, or a current alternation; one period.

#### Circle

A territorial division or district.

#### Cycle

To pass through a cycle{2} of changes; to recur in cycles.

#### Circle

To move around; to revolve around.
Other planets circle other suns.

#### Cycle

To ride a bicycle, tricycle, or other form of cycle.

#### Circle

To encompass, as by a circle; to surround; to inclose; to encircle.
Their heads are circled with a short turban.
So he lies, circled with evil.

#### Cycle

To cause to pass through a cycle{2}.

#### Circle

To move circularly; to form a circle; to circulate.
Thy name shall circle round the gaping through.

#### Cycle

An interval during which a recurring sequence of events occurs;
The neverending cycle of the seasons

#### Circle

Ellipse in which the two axes are of equal length; a plane curve generated by one point moving at a constant distance from a fixed point;
He calculated the circumference of the circle

#### Cycle

A series of poems or songs on the same theme;
Schubert's song cycles

#### Circle

An unofficial association of people or groups;
The smart set goes there
They were an angry lot

#### Cycle

A periodically repeated sequence of events;
A cycle of reprisal and retaliation

#### Circle

Something approximating the shape of a circle;
The chairs were arranged in a circle

#### Cycle

The unit of frequency; one Hertz has a periodic interval of one second

#### Circle

Movement once around a course;
He drove an extra lap just for insurance

#### Cycle

A single complete execution of a periodically repeated phenomenon;
A year constitutes a cycle of the seasons

#### Circle

A road junction at which traffic streams circularly around a central island;
The accident blocked all traffic at the rotary

#### Cycle

A wheeled vehicle that has two wheels and is moved by foot pedals

#### Circle

Street names for flunitrazepan

#### Cycle

Cause to go through a recurring sequence;
Cycle thge laundry in this washing program

#### Circle

A curved section or tier of seats in a hall or theater or opera house; usually the first tier above the orchestra;
They had excellent seats in the dress circle

#### Cycle

Pass through a cycle;
This machine automatically cycles

#### Circle

Any circular or rotating mechanism;
The machine punched out metal circles

#### Cycle

Ride a motorcycle

#### Circle

Travel around something;
Circle the globe

Ride a bicycle

Move in circles

#### Cycle

Recur in repeating sequences

#### Circle

Be around;
Developments surround the town
The river encircles the village

#### Cycle

A single complete execution of a periodically repeated phenomenon or event.
The moon goes through its cycle every 29.5 days.

#### Circle

Form a circle around;
Encircle the errors

#### Cycle

A two-wheeled vehicle.
He rode his cycle to work.

#### Circle

A closed shape with every point equidistant from its center.
Draw a circle with your compass.

## FAQs

#### Does "circle" have meanings beyond geometry?

Yes, "circle" can refer to a group of people, moving in a loop, or an unproductive process.

#### What is a basic definition of a circle in geometry?

A circle is a closed shape with all points equidistant from its center.

#### How is "circle" utilized in social contexts?

It may refer to a group sharing common interests, like a "circle of friends."

#### What is the difference between a circle and an ellipse?

All points in a circle are equidistant from the center, unlike an ellipse.

#### Can "circle" be used as a verb?

Yes, "circle" can be a verb meaning to enclose or move around something in a loop.

#### Is "cycle" utilized in natural science?

Yes, it describes processes like the water cycle, showcasing stages in a recurring sequence.

#### Is "cycle" used in economic contexts?

Yes, it can describe fluctuations in the economy, such as boom and bust cycles.

#### Can "circle" and "cycle" be used interchangeably?

No, "circle" primarily denotes a shape or group, while "cycle" implies a repetitive series.

#### Does "cycle" always imply a consistent time frame for repetition?

No, the duration of cycles can vary widely depending on the context.

#### What is a cycle in general terms?

A cycle refers to a series of events or processes that repeat in a set order.

#### Can "cycle" refer to transportation?

Yes, "cycle" can denote a bicycle or a related two-wheeled vehicle.

#### Can "circle" metaphorically imply a kind of repetition similar to "cycle"?

Yes, especially in a phrase like “going in circles,” implying non-progressive repetition.

#### Do "circle" and "cycle" both originate from the same language or root?

No, "circle" originates from the Old French "cercle," while "cycle" is from the Greek "kyklos."

#### Are "circle" and "cycle" both nouns and verbs?

Yes, both can be used as nouns and verbs with varied meanings based on usage.

#### Is there a relational phrase that involves both words?

Yes, "vicious circle" and "vicious cycle" both denote a self-perpetuating, harmful process.

#### Does mathematical or scientific notation utilize "circle" and "cycle"?

Yes, "circle" is used in geometry and "cycle" to describe recurring scientific processes.

#### Can "circle" be used to describe a cycle of friends?

Yes, but it would denote the group itself, not the repetition implied by "cycle."

#### Can "circle" in any context imply repetition?

Rarely, except in phrases implying unproductive repetition, like "going in circles."

#### Can a circle of events be described as a cycle?

It’s possible if implying the group’s actions or events repeat in a noticeable, predictable pattern.

#### Is a cyclical event similar to a circle?

Not necessarily; a cycle implies an event sequence, whereas a circle is a shape or group.