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[sahy-kuh l] /ˈsaɪ kəl/
any complete round or series of occurrences that repeats or is repeated.
a round of years or a recurring period of time, especially one in which certain events or phenomena repeat themselves in the same order and at the same intervals.
any long period of years; age.
a bicycle, motorcycle, tricycle, etc.
a group of poems, dramas, prose narratives, songs etc., about a central theme, figure, or the like:
the Arthurian cycle.
  1. a sequence of changing states that, upon completion, produces a final state identical to the original one.
  2. one of a succession of periodically recurring events.
  3. a complete alteration in which a phenomenon attains a maximum and minimum value, returning to a final value equal to the original one.
Mathematics. a permutation of a set of elements that leaves the original cyclic order of the elements unchanged.
  1. the smallest interval of time required to complete an operation in a computer.
  2. a series of computer operations repeated as a unit.
verb (used without object), cycled, cycling.
to ride or travel by bicycle, motorcycle, tricycle, etc.
to move or revolve in cycles; pass through cycles.
hit for the cycle, Baseball. (of one player) to hit a single, double, triple, and home run in one game.
Origin of cycle
1350-1400; Middle English cicle < Late Latin cyclus < Greek kýklos cycle, circle, wheel, ring, disk, orb; see wheel
Related forms
supercycle, noun Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018.
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Examples from the Web for cycle
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • The three works will serve to complete each other, and they complete a cycle of the theme.

    Bride of the Mistletoe James Lane Allen
  • My sixth a cycle of revolving time,Which visits every nation, age, and clime.

  • The cycle of beauty and eternal hope, and, incidentally, the good of trade.

    Another Sheaf John Galsworthy
  • In general it appears that practice has moved and still moves in a cycle.

    College Teaching Paul Klapper
  • Then he mounted his cycle and rode away from me down the drive towards the Hall.

    The Return of Sherlock Holmes Arthur Conan Doyle
British Dictionary definitions for cycle


a recurring period of time in which certain events or phenomena occur and reach completion or repeat themselves in a regular sequence
a completed series of events that follows or is followed by another series of similar events occurring in the same sequence
the time taken or needed for one such series
a vast period of time; age; aeon
a group of poems or prose narratives forming a continuous story about a central figure or event: the Arthurian cycle
a series of miracle plays: the Chester cycle
a group or sequence of songs See song cycle
(astronomy) the orbit of a celestial body
a recurrent series of events or processes in plants and animals: a life cycle, a growth cycle, a metabolic cycle
(physics) a continuous change or a sequence of changes in the state of a system that leads to the restoration of the system to its original state after a finite period of time
one of a series of repeated changes in the magnitude of a periodically varying quantity, such as current or voltage
  1. a set of operations that can be both treated and repeated as a unit
  2. the time required to complete a set of operations
  3. one oscillation of the regular voltage waveform used to synchronize processes in a digital computer
(in generative grammar) the set of cyclic rules
(transitive) to process through a cycle or system
(intransitive) to move in or pass through cycles
to travel by or ride a bicycle or tricycle
Derived Forms
cycling, noun, adjective
Word Origin
C14: from Late Latin cyclus, from Greek kuklos cycle, circle, ring, wheel; see wheel
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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Word Origin and History for cycle

late 14c., from Late Latin cyclus, from Greek kyklos "circle, wheel, any circular body, circular motion, cycle of events," from PIE *kwel- "to roll, to move around, wheel" (cf. Sanskrit cakram "circle, wheel," carati "he moves, wanders;" Avestan caraiti "applies himself," c'axra "chariot, wagon;" Greek polos "a round axis" (PIE *kw- becomes Greek p- before some vowels), polein "move around;" Latin colere "to frequent, dwell in, to cultivate, move around," cultus "tended, cultivated," hence also "polished," colonus "husbandman, tenant farmer, settler, colonist;" Lithuanian kelias "a road, a way;" Old Norse hvel, Old English hweol "wheel;" Old Russian kolo, Polish koło, Russian koleso "a wheel").


1842, "revolve in cycles," from cycle (n.). Meaning "to ride a bicycle" is from 1883. Related: Cycled; cycling.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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cycle in Medicine

cycle cy·cle (sī'kəl)

  1. An interval of time during which a characteristic, often regularly repeated event or sequence of events occurs.

  2. A single complete execution of a periodically repeated phenomenon.

  3. A periodically repeated sequence of events.

The American Heritage® Stedman's Medical Dictionary
Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.
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cycle in Science
  1. A single complete execution of a periodically repeated phenomenon. See also period.

  2. A circular or whorled arrangement of flower parts such as those of petals or stamens.

The American Heritage® Science Dictionary
Copyright © 2002. Published by Houghton Mifflin. All rights reserved.
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