# This sounds circular for numbers etc. - what's the meaning of circular in this passage?

Primitives are also compared by value: two values are the same only if they have the same value. This sounds circular for numbers, booleans, null, and undefined: there is no other way that they could be compared. Again, however, it is not so obvious for strings. If two distinct string values are compared, JavaScript treats them as equal if, and only if, they have the same length and if the character at each index is the same.

I can't understand what the adjective circular is supposed to mean in this context. According to dictionaries, the word has basically two definitions: when something has a round shape and the other meaning is about a logical argument being circular. Neither one appears to be fitting for the context of this paragraph.

• "two values are the same only if they have the same value" sounds circular because the definition doesn't really give us new information; it just refers to itself. A "circular" thing in this sense might go like this: "What is 1 + 1?" "2" "Why?" "Because 1+1 = 2." "That's right, but why 2 is 1 + 1?" "Because 2 = 1 + 1." This is circular, because it doesn't go anywhere. It's like we got stuck in a loop. Jun 14, 2014 at 1:04
• @DamkerngT. Concise and precise. Post it! Jun 14, 2014 at 1:12
• By the way I would consider this poor writing as a native English speaker, and also poor thinking. There is nothing 'circular' here...numbers, etc. could be compared first on the basis of matching type, then on the basis of value.
– Merk
Jun 14, 2014 at 8:20

"two values are the same only if they have the same value" sounds circular because the definition doesn't really give us new information. It just refers to itself. -- "What makes two values the same?", you might wonder. And the given explanation is: when "they have the same value." Oh, great! What else the reason could be!

"What is 1 + 1?"
"2."
"Why?"
"Because 1 + 1 = 2."
"That's right, but why 2 is 1 + 1?"
"Because 2 = 1 + 1."

This is circular because it doesn't go anywhere. It's like we got stuck in a loop.

Here is how Macmillan Dictionary defines circular (for this sense):

2. a circular argument or theory does not mean anything because it consists of a series of causes and effects that lead you back to the original cause

• funny answer! yay! Jun 14, 2014 at 1:40