English Error for「悪循環」

I’ve known the English meaning for 悪循環 well before WaniKani introduced it to me and I was shocked when they gave “vicious circle” as the only meaning for this word in English!!

In reality, no one says, “vicious circle”. The actual term is “vicious cycle.” In all my years, I have never heard anyone use the phrase, “vicious circle” before… It sounds silly to me, actually. :sweat_smile:

Is there a way that we can change this? I know that there are many non-native English speakers using WaniKani as well and I would hate for them to get the impression that native English speakers use “circle” instead of “cycle.” :grimacing:


(I’ve never heard “vicious circle” used either though. Maybe it’s regional. :man_shrugging:)


Funnily enough, in French we actually say ‘cercle vicieux’ (vicious circle) and not ‘cycle vicieux’ (vicious cycle).


:thinking: (wordreference)


may be it’s a UK/US thing


Just a reminder that English is spoken in over 70 countries, many of which have several regional dialects, so it becomes difficult to accurately make broad statements about usage.


While the “circle” variation may be used outside of the States, I am shocked to see that an American company like WK uses it. In America, I’ve only ever heard “vicious cycle.” The more popular “cycle” variation should at least be included as an acceptable English translation on WK.


This might possibly be down just to dialect. I think I actually would say “vicious circle”, maybe interchangeably with “vicious cycle”, depending who I’m talking to at any given time. (I speak/write British English, my accent/dialect is Northern).

Would recommend for now adding vicious cycle as a user synonym and maybe emailing the team to suggest adding it as an official WK synonym?

Edit: funnily enough I’m just north of the border of the Tresley guy in the screenshot above

US native here and I feel like I’ve heard and used both :thinking: Like “it’s a vicious circle” (general statement describing a thing) versus “caught up in a vicious cycle OF X and Y.” Although as I’m reading it, I think I’d be more inclined to use “vicious circle,” if I had to choose one or the other. “Vicious cycle” sounds weirder to me the more I think about it. Idk. I think “vicious circle” feels more natural to me on the whole.

Could be something to the regional hypothesis though, because I grew up in California and Tofugu’s based on the West Coast too.

In any case, would agree with Oneiros’s suggestion - I don’t think it would be a bad idea to have “vicious cycle” as an official synonym.


I’ve lived in the Western/Finger Lakes area of New York State almost my entire life and I’ve absolutely used vicious circle much as you describe in your post. Though maybe I picked it up in reading more than in the listening to the dialect of people around me.

Neither sounds specifically wrong to me, and I don’t think I’d be confused by usage of one over the other so I’d agree that a synonym would make the most sense here. It does seem that “vicious cycle” has more results on Google, but at over 4.3 million the “vicious circle” usage doesn’t seem uncommon either.


After giving it a bit of thought, I’m pretty sure I use “vicious cycle” more often. I grew up on the West Coast (Seattle area) but my parents are from the midwest and Texas, so it might be a regional thing I picked up from them instead of something from the area. But both sound correct and convey the same meaning to me, so I second (third? forth?) the idea that it should be a synonym.

According to Paul Brians, professor of English at Washington State University and author of Common Errors in English Usage, the term vicious circle is the original term and became vicious cycle in popular usage after.

It’s the same in German and Dutch as well, Teufelskreis and vicieuze cirkel respectively.


I love these kinds of threads.


It looks like Jisho lists both vicious circle and vicious cycle.

I suppose what you actually mean is ‘I don’t say this’, right? Because, in reality, people do say it.

I’ve heard the term many, many times and I’ve lived in the US my entire life. I’ve encountered it tons of news stories as well from US-based media outlets. From Bloomberg, to the Washington Post, etc. :man_shrugging:t2:

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I am able to write this because literally everyone around me growing up, myself included, has only ever used the term, “vicious cycle” before. I’ve never heard it until WK. This term is almost always only used in academic settings––in environments involving biology and economics. In academia in the United States, the “cycle” variation is exclusively used. I have never heard of the “circle” variation before.

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Do you have a concrete example? I prefer evidence. I’ve never come across the “circle” phrasing before until now.

Just popping “vicious circle” Bloomberg or “vicious circle” Washington Post into google comes up with examples. I’m sure you could do it with other sources.

Bloomberg is being weird when I do the inline link, so we’ll go with this


Gave it a go with New York Times


You say you prefer evidence. Here’s some evidence that the “circle” variant is more common in academia. Granted, Google Scholar can’t (afaik) search only US authors, but: Google Scholar lists 235k results, versus Google Scholar with 203k results.


I grew up in California and have never heard the term “vicious circle” in my life, only ever “cycle” so :woman_shrugging:t2:

Generally I agree with those saying that both terms should be deemed officially correct by WK, as the consensus seems to be the phrases are interchangeable depending on your dialect/lexicon.

I would never pretend to speak for the whole of the UK, but I’ve only ever heard cycle used here :woman_shrugging:


Seconded, only ever heard Vicious Cycle in British English, but I understand that there are plenty of phrases like that that are corrupted through repetition and dialectic changes.