Glossary of Linguistic Terms

Circular Definition


A circular definition is a description of the meaning of a lexeme that is constructed using one or more synonymous lexemes that are all defined in terms of each other.



  • fast—adj. 'swift; quick; speedy'
  • swift—adj. 'rapid; fast'

Here is how the circularity can be resolved by the addition of an analytic definition and supplemental information:

  • fast—adj. 'rapid in movement or action, often referring to the person or thing that moves; swift; quick; speedy'
  • swift—adj. 'moving or capable of moving with great speed, often in a smooth and easy manner; rapid; fast'
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Glossary Hierarchy