1. 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.
a. A single complete execution of a periodically repeated phenomenon: A year constitutes a cycle of the seasons.
b. A periodically repeated sequence of events: the cycle of birth, growth, and death; a cycle of reprisal and retaliation.
3. The orbit of a celestial body.
4. A long period of time; an age.
a. The aggregate of traditional poems or stories organized around a central theme or hero: the Arthurian cycle.
b. A series of poems or songs on the same theme: Schubert's song cycles.
6. A bicycle, motorcycle, or similar vehicle.
7. Botany A circular or whorled arrangement of flower parts such as those of petals or sepals.
8. Baseball The achievement of hitting a single, double, triple, and home run in a single game.
v. cy·cled, cy·cling, cy·cles
1. To occur in or pass through a cycle.
2. To move in or as if in a cycle.
3. To ride a bicycle, motorcycle, or similar vehicle.
To use in or put through a cycle: cycled the heavily soiled laundry twice; cycling the recruits through eight weeks of basic training.
[Middle English cicle, from Late Latin cyclus, from Greek kuklos, circle; see kwel-1 in the Appendix of Indo-European roots.]
The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fifth Edition copyright ©2020 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.
Indo-European & Semitic Roots Appendices
Thousands of entries in the dictionary include etymologies that trace their origins back to reconstructed proto-languages. You can obtain more information about these forms in our online appendices:
The Indo-European appendix covers nearly half of the Indo-European roots that have left their mark on English words. A more complete treatment of Indo-European roots and the English words derived from them is available in our Dictionary of Indo-European Roots.