What word of two mentioned above should I use when I mean a map route which begins and ends at the same point?

2 Answers 2


Looking at your question, I feel you want to mean that there's a map where you begin at one place and also end at the same.

Cycle does not fit and loop refers more to a shape than what you probably want. Okay...

One of the common words used for this is ...

circuit - A roughly circular line, route, or movement that starts and finishes at the same place

Example of Circuit route

You may also use track but I don't think it starts and ends at the same point whereas circuit does probably because the electronic circuit happens only when it completes its path.

  • Agreed. "Track" implies the surface you're walking on, or is the word for sports events (racing track, running track etc). "Trail" is also a possibility, if it involves a walking route, but lacks the aspect of starting and finishing in the same place.
    – JMB
    Mar 11, 2014 at 10:51
  • Thanks for great answer. And one more question on this theme. How should I call road which is around the whole city like this. We call it "ring road" in Russian.
    – kassie
    Mar 11, 2014 at 11:42
  • @kassie You nailed it! It's ring road and many cities around the world have adopted it (including my hometown).
    – Maulik V
    Mar 11, 2014 at 11:47
  • 2
    In America, a road that makes a circle around a big city is called a "loop" or a "beltway". When it's part of the Interstate Highway System, a loop is always given a 3-digit number starting with an even digit. As opposed to a spur, which is a road that branches off the main highway and ends, usually in a big city, and which is given a 3-digit number starting with an odd digit. I've never heard the term "ring road". What country are you from @Maulik?
    – Jay
    Mar 11, 2014 at 13:55
  • @Jay India. But thanks for sharing. Ring road is an official term here and you see signboards stating that. :)
    – Maulik V
    Mar 11, 2014 at 14:18

I don't know of any single English word that would be understood to mean what you are asking without further explanation.

The closest phrase I can think of is "round-trip route".

You could use "loop" to describe such a route. You'd have to specify that you're talking about a route -- a "loop" can be anything that goes in a circle or something resembling a circle. Like you can say, "I travelled in a loop" or "The route made a loop."

"Cycle" implies something that happens over and over. We talk about the "cycle of the seasons" or the "election cycle". If you said, "I travelled in a cycle" ... Well, first people would likely think you meant, "I travelled ON a cycle", meaning a bicycle or a motorcycle. But assuming you used another wording or emphasized the "in", they would understand you to mean that you travelled the same route over and over.

@Maulik's suggestion of "circuit" is possible. I think in general, though, people would understand a "circuit" to mean a route that has many stops. Like we say, "The salesman made a circuit of his five biggest clients", meaning that he visited each of the clients, then went back to the first and started over, probably many times. We used to have "circuit judges" in America, which were judges who would travel through a series of small towns, each of which was not big enough to need a full-time judge. He'd arrive in a town, hear whatever cases had come up since his last visit, then go on to the next. Some judges still have an official title of "circuit judge" but they no longer ride from town to town on a horse. They just have authority over a large area.

  • We actually have official road signs in Atlanta, GA, USA that are referred to as, for instance, the "120 loop", etc. These roads are certainly not laid out in a circle, and indeed, do not return to the same place! They are referred to as loops because they enter and leave from the same road, if you stay on them long enough. (Imagine the loop part to the the curvy part of the letter P).
    – Msfolly
    Jan 30, 2016 at 22:42
  • @Msfolly When talking about highways in the U.S., we sometimes use "loop" to mean a road that goes around a city when the main highway goes through the city. Sometimes it's a circle that goes around the entire city, so you could start and end at the same point, but fairly often it's only part of a circle.
    – Jay
    Feb 1, 2016 at 15:18
  • The Interstate Highway System has a numbering scheme for this: Main highways are two-digit numbers, even for east-west and odd for north-south. Loops are three-digit numbers with the first digit even. Spurs -- roads that go from the main highway to a city that the highway misses -- are three-digit number with the first digit odd.
    – Jay
    Feb 1, 2016 at 15:19

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