hamster wheel

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hamster wheel (plural hamster wheels)

  1. A circular cage for a hamster or other small rodent, which rotates vertically as the animal runs at the bottom.
  2. (figuratively, by extension) A monotonous, repetitive, unfulfilling activity, especially one in which no progress is achieved.
    • 2002, Michiko Kakutani, "Books of the Times," New York Times, 28 Jun. (retrieved 23 Sep. 2008),
      The overall mood of this volume is one of melancholy and loss, weary resignation to one's lot—trudging round and round on the rusty hamster wheel of life.


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