Simple Definition of circumscribe
: to limit the size or amount of (something)
: to draw a shape around (another shape)
Full Definition of circumscribe
1 a : to constrict the range or activity of definitely and clearly <his role was carefully circumscribed> b : to define or mark off carefully <a study of plant species in a circumscribed area>
2 a : to draw a line around b : to surround by or as if by a boundary <fields circumscribed by tall trees>
3 : to construct or be constructed around (a geometrical figure) so as to touch as many points as possible
Examples of circumscribe in a sentence
The circle is circumscribed by a square.
<circumscribed his enthusiasm so as not to make the losing side feel worse>
Did You Know?
Circumscribe has a lot of relatives in English. Its Latin predecessor circumscribere (which roughly translates as "to draw a circle around") derives from circum-, meaning "circle," and scribere, meaning "to write or draw." Among the many descendants of circum- are circuit, circumcise, circumference, circumnavigate, circumspect, circumstance, and circumvent. Scribere gave us such words as scribe and scribble, as well as ascribe, describe, and transcribe, among others. Circumscribe was first recorded in the 14th century; it was originally spelled circumscrive, but the "circumscribe" spelling had also appeared by the end of the century.
Origin of circumscribe
Middle English circumscriven, from Latin circumscribere, from circum- + scribere to write, draw — more at scribe
First Known Use: 14th century
Synonym Discussion of circumscribe
Learn More about circumscribe
Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for "circumscribe" Spanish Central: Translation of "circumscribe" Nglish: Translation of "circumscribe" for Spanish speakers Britannica English: Translation of "circumscribe" for Arabic speakers
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