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Cyclic vs. Cyclical — What's the Difference?

By Tayyaba Rehman — Updated on September 24, 2023
Cyclic and Cyclical both refer to occurrences in cycles; however, cyclic often relates to circular motion or sequence, while cyclical usually pertains to events recurring in cycles, often in economics.
Cyclic vs. Cyclical — What's the Difference?

Difference Between Cyclic and Cyclical

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Key Differences

Cyclic and Cyclical, while seemingly interchangeable, subtly differ in connotation and usage. Cyclic usually pertains to phenomena that occur in a cycle, a sequence, or a circular motion, and it’s often used in the context of mathematics or science to describe a repeating sequence or a rotational movement, emphasizing the systematic and orderly recurrence of components or processes within a specific framework or set parameters.
Tayyaba Rehman
Sep 24, 2023
Cyclical, however, primarily refers to events that recur periodically, typically used in the context of economic fluctuations, societal trends, and natural phenomena, suggesting a predictable but not always uniform recurrence of events or states over time, often with varying intensity and impact, emphasizing the inherent and recurrent nature of certain phenomena in the universe, reflecting the periodic rise and fall, growth and decline, or accumulation and depletion inherent in many natural and man-made systems.
Tayyaba Rehman
Sep 24, 2023
When we refer to something as cyclic, we usually denote the regularity and orderliness of the occurrence or structure, highlighting the systematic and repetitive nature of the phenomenon, such as a cyclic pattern or a cyclic process, where the emphasis is on the regular and orderly recurrence or arrangement of elements or events within a set framework or sequence.
Tayyaba Rehman
Sep 24, 2023
Conversely, the term cyclical implies a natural and inherent recurrence of events or states over time, accentuating the predictable yet varying nature of such recurrences, such as cyclical unemployment or cyclical trends, where the focus is on the inherent and recurrent nature of certain phenomena, reflecting the inevitable ebb and flow, rise and fall, or growth and decline characteristic of many systems and processes in the world.
Tayyaba Rehman
Sep 24, 2023
To recap, cyclic refers more to the orderly and regular recurrence or arrangement of elements or events in a set sequence or framework, often in a circular motion or a systematic pattern, while cyclical denotes the inherent and predictable recurrence of events or states over time, often with varying intensity and impact, reflecting the natural and periodic nature of many phenomena in the universe.
Tayyaba Rehman
Sep 24, 2023
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Comparison Chart

Primary Usage

Mathematics, Science
Economics, Sociology
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Sep 24, 2023

Connotation

Regularity and orderliness in sequence or structure.
Predictable but varying recurrence of events or states.
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Sep 24, 2023

Contextual Application

Describes systematic and repetitive phenomena.
Emphasizes inherent and recurrent nature of phenomena.
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Examples

Cyclic rotation, Cyclic sequence
Cyclical unemployment, Cyclical trends
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Nuance

More about the orderly arrangement and repetition.
More about the natural and inherent recurrence.
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Sep 24, 2023

Compare with Definitions

Cyclic

Relating to or occurring in a cycle or regularly repeated sequence.
The cyclic rotation of the earth affects day and night.
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Cyclical

Characterized by or recurring in cycles.
The economy experiences cyclical changes, with periods of growth followed by contraction.
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Cyclic

Involving a series of events or processes that repeat in the same order.
Many chemical reactions are cyclic, occurring in a predictable sequence.
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Cyclical

Relating to a situation in which events happen in a repeated sequence.
The cyclical nature of fashion trends often sees styles return after several decades.
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Cyclic

Pertaining to a phenomenon or process that occurs in a circular motion or pattern.
The cyclic motion of a spinning wheel is a common sight in pottery workshops.
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Cyclical

Pertaining to phenomena that exhibit a periodic recurrence.
Certain animal behaviors are cyclical, coinciding with changes in the seasons.
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Cyclic

Characterized by a recurring sequence or pattern.
The cyclic pattern of the seasons has been studied for centuries.
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Cyclical

Denoting events or processes that show a regular and recurrent pattern of activity.
The stock market is inherently cyclical, with periods of bull and bear markets.
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Cyclic

Representing a sequence or structure that repeats at regular intervals.
A cyclic process in mathematics can describe a range of repeating phenomena.
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Cyclical

Of, relating to, or characterized by cycles
A cyclic pattern of weather changes.
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Cyclic

Occurring in cycles; regularly repeated
The cyclic pattern of the last two decades
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Cyclical

Recurring or moving in cycles
Cyclical history.
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Cyclic

Relating to a circle or other closed curve.
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Cyclical

(Chemistry) Of or relating to compounds having atoms arranged in a ring or closed-chain structure.
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Cyclic

(of a compound) having a molecular structure containing one or more closed rings of atoms
A cyclic sulphonium salt
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Cyclical

Having parts arranged in a whorl.
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Cyclic

(of a flower) having its parts arranged in whorls.
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Cyclical

Forming a whorl.
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Cyclic

Of, relating to, or characterized by cycles
A cyclic pattern of weather changes.
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Cyclical

Recurring at regular intervals
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Cyclic

Recurring or moving in cycles
Cyclical history.
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Cyclical

Recurring in cycles
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Cyclic

(Chemistry) Of or relating to compounds having atoms arranged in a ring or closed-chain structure.
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Cyclical

Reflecting the inherent and predictable recurrence of events over time.
Cyclical unemployment is influenced by changes in the economic cycle.
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Cyclic

Having parts arranged in a whorl.
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Cyclic

Forming a whorl.
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Cyclic

Characterized by, or moving in cycles, or happening at regular intervals.
The weather had a cyclic pattern of rain and sun.
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Cyclic

Having chains of atoms arranged in a ring.
Benzene and cyclohexane are both cyclic compounds.
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Cyclic

(botany) Having parts arranged in a whorl.
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Cyclic

Being generated by only one element.
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Cyclic

Able to be inscribed in a circle.
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Cyclic

Firing at its full cyclic rate.
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Cyclic

(aviation) The flight control used to control a helicopter's direction and rate of horizontal movement by tilting the lift vector of the helicopter's main rotor disk.
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Cyclic

Of or pertaining to a cycle or circle; moving in cycles; as, cyclical time.
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Cyclic

Having atoms bonded to form a ring structure. Opposite of acyclic.
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Cyclic

Recurring in cycles{2}; having a pattern that repeats at approximately equal intervals; periodic. Opposite of noncyclic.
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Cyclic

Marked by repeated cycles{2}.
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Cyclic

Conforming to the Carnot cycle
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Cyclic

Botany; forming a whorl or having parts arranged in a whorl;
Cyclic petals
Cyclic flowers
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Cyclic

Of a compound having atoms arranged in a ring structure
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Cyclic

Recurring in cycles
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Cyclic

Marked by repeated cycles
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Common Curiosities

Is Cyclical often used to describe economic fluctuations?

Yes, cyclical is commonly used to describe the periodic rise and fall in economic activity and other recurrent events.
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Sep 24, 2023

Can Cyclic be used in a scientific context?

Absolutely, cyclic is often used in science to describe phenomena occurring in a regular sequence or circular motion.
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Sep 24, 2023

Is Cyclic associated more with regular sequences?

Yes, cyclic often relates to phenomena occurring in a regular, repeating sequence or structure.
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Sep 24, 2023

Does Cyclical imply a natural and inherent recurrence of events?

Exactly, cyclical emphasizes the inherent and recurrent nature of certain phenomena, reflecting the periodic nature of many events in the universe.
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Sep 24, 2023

Does Cyclic emphasize the regularity and orderliness of occurrences?

Indeed, cyclic emphasizes the systematic and orderly recurrence of elements or processes within specific parameters.
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Sep 24, 2023

Does Cyclical refer to events that recur periodically?

Yes, cyclical typically refers to events that recur in predictable cycles, often with variable intensity.
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Sep 24, 2023

Is Cyclic primarily used to describe circular motion or sequence?

Yes, cyclic is primarily used to describe phenomena occurring in a cycle, sequence, or circular motion.
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Sep 24, 2023

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Author Spotlight

Written by
Tayyaba Rehman
Tayyaba Rehman is a distinguished writer, currently serving as a primary contributor to askdifference.com. As a researcher in semantics and etymology, Tayyaba's passion for the complexity of languages and their distinctions has found a perfect home on the platform. Tayyaba delves into the intricacies of language, distinguishing between commonly confused words and phrases, thereby providing clarity for readers worldwide.

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