circle, wheel

Quick Summary

The Greek root word cycl means “circle.” This Greek root is the word origin of a number of English vocabulary words, including unicycle, recycle, and Cyclops. Perhaps the easiest way to remember that the Greek root word cycl means “circle” is through the word bicycle, which possesses two “circles” in the form of wheels.

Recycling That Circle--Again!

The root word cycl means “circle.” Today we will cycle through a number of examples that use the Greek root word cycl.

The wheel, which is a “circle,” was one of the greatest inventions of all time. Cyclists are fond of using self-powered vehicles that use such rubbery and metallic “circles.” Consider the unicycle, which contains one such “circle,” the bicycle, which has two “circles,” and the tricycle, which has three. Then, of course, there is the motorcycle, whose “circles” or wheels are powered by engines so that a motorcyclist doesn’t have to pedal.

The cycle of the seasons forms a “circle” running from winter through fall, and back to winter again, forming one great natural “circle.” The idea behind recycling is the “circling” of a product back to its original form in order to be used once again; for example, the plastic that forms a bottle can be “circled” back into yet another bottle.

“Circles” can sometimes possess great energy or power, whether man-made or not. Consider, for example, that the most powerful of cyclones, better known as hurricanes, have a “circular” shape. A cyclotron is a “circular” apparatus that whizzes along atomic particles in a “circle,” which helps to determine the properties or physics of these particles.

The encyclopedia was so named because it was thought to contain the general “circle” of knowledge that all children should know. For instance, in most encyclopedias there would be an entry for the Cyclops, that giant of Greek mythology that had one big eye in the shape of, you guessed it, a “circle.” Of course, there was more than one Cyclops, the plural of which is Cyclopes. Note that there is no such creature, mythological or otherwise, as a Cyclop!

I hope that we have cycled through enough words today to help you remember that the Greek root word cycl means “circle.” Now go take a nice ride on your bicycle and enjoy the day!

  1. cyclist: one who pedals vehicles with “circles” as wheels
  2. unicycle: one-wheeled or “circled” vehicle
  3. bicycle: two-wheeled or “circled” vehicle
  4. tricycle: three-wheeled or “circled” vehicle
  5. motorcycle: motorized vehicle with two wheels or “circles”
  6. cycle: a period of events which “circle” back to an original state
  7. recycle: to “circle” back again
  8. cyclone: great “circular” storm
  9. cyclotron: an instrument used by physicists that accelerate particles in a “circle”
  10. encyclopedia: books which teach the whole “circle” of knowledge
  11. Cyclops: great mythological single “circle”-eyed giant
  12. Cyclopes: plural form of “Cyclops”


  • cycle

    A cycle is a period of time that eventually repeats itself.

  • cyclical

    recurring in cycles

  • cyclist

    a person who rides a bicycle

  • cyclometer

    A contrivance for recording the revolutions of a wheel, as of a bicycle.

  • cyclone

    (meteorology) rapid inward circulation of air masses about a low pressure center

  • Cyclopean

    of or pertaining to a mythological giant with one great eye

  • Cyclops

    a mythological giant with one great eye

  • bicycle

    ride a bicycle

  • encyclopedia

    a reference work (often in several volumes) containing articles on various topics (often arranged in alphabetical order) dealing with the entire range of human knowledge or with some particular specialty

  • encyclopedic

    broad in scope or content

  • motorcycle

    ride a motorcycle

  • recyclable

    capable of being used again

  • recycle

    cause to repeat a cycle

  • tricycle

    a vehicle with three wheels that is moved by foot pedals

  • unicycle

    ride a unicycle

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