full circle

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  • (UK) IPA(key): /ˌfʊl ˈsɜː.kəl/
  • (UK) IPA(key): /ˌfʊl ˈsɝ.kəl/
  • (file)


full circle (plural full circles)

  1. Used other than with a figurative or idiomatic meaning: see full,‎ circle.
  2. (geometry) An arc of 360 degrees.
    • 2007, Carolyn C. Wheater, Geometry, page 193:
      Arcs are measured in degrees, with 360° in the full circle.
  3. A full turn back to the original direction or orientation.
    • 2006, Jack Dawson, Reflections in a Curved Glass, page 31:
      He cackled confidentially, like he knew more than he was telling, then threw his head back and crowed once and strutted in a full circle like a rumpled old rooster.
    1. By extension, of a discussion, a point arrived at which is the same point at which it began; the point at which effort has resulted in no progress.

Usage notes[edit]

In geometry, a full circle is properly an arc of 360°, but informally it may be used to refer to the angle measure subtending that arc.




full circle (not comparable)

  1. Through a rotation or revolution that ends at the starting point.
    • 1983, Dorothy Koster Washburn, Structure and Cognition in Art, page 138:
      Thus, patterns whose parts move about a point axis are called finite, because eventually the parts will move full circle to superimpose upon the original starting point []
  2. (idiomatic) Through a cycle of transition, returning to where one started after gaining experience or exploring other things.
    • 2001, Peter M. Coan, Taxi: The Harry Chapin Story, page 139:
      He'd begin with a premise and wrap it up at the end, full circle, the moral of the story hanging on the last word of the last line.
    • 2012, John Schuster, Descartes-Agonistes: Physcio-mathematics, Method & Corpuscular Mechanism 1618-33, page 213:
      This therefore marks our return full circle to the optical proofs in the Diotprique with which our detective work began.

Derived terms[edit]