noun, often attributive
cir·cle | \ ˈsər-kəl \

Definition of circle 

(Entry 1 of 2)

1a : ring, halo

b : a closed plane (see plane entry 6 sense 2b) curve every point of which is equidistant (see equidistant sense 1) from a fixed point within the curve

c : the plane surface bounded by such a curve

2 archaic : the orbit of a celestial body

3 : something in the form of a circle or section of a circle: such as

a : diadem

b : an instrument of astronomical observation the graduated (see graduated sense 2a) limb of which consists of an entire circle

c : a balcony or tier of seats in a theater

d : a circle formed on the surface of a sphere by the intersection of a plane that passes through it circle of latitude

e : rotary sense 2 Traffic slowed down around the circle.

4 : an area of action or influence : realm within the circle of probability

5a : cycle, round the wheel has come full circle

b : fallacious reasoning in which something to be demonstrated is covertly assumed

6 : a group of persons sharing a common interest or revolving about a common center the sewing circle of her church family circle the gossip of court circles political, social, and literary circles

7 : a territorial or administrative division or district The province is divided into nine circles.

8 : a curving side street lived on Kimberly Circle

9 : a circular course or path The children ran in circles around the tree. The conversation kept going in circles, and nothing got accomplished.


circled; circling\-k(ə-)liŋ \

Definition of circle (Entry 2 of 2)

transitive verb

1 : to enclose in or as if in a circle The teacher circled the misspelled words.

2 : to move or revolve around satellites circling the earth

intransitive verb

1a : to move in or as if in a circle The airplane circled around over the airport.

b : circulate thy name shall circle round the gaping throng —Lord Byron

c : to circle around before making an attack sharks circling in the water

2 : to describe or extend in a circle the lighthouse sent out its slow steady circling beam —R. O. Bowen

Illustration of circle

Illustration of circle


circle 1b: AB diameter; C center; CD, CA, CB radii; EKF arc on chord EF; EFKL (area) segment on chord EF; ACD (area) sector; GH secant; TPM tangent at point P; EKFBPDA circumference

In the meaning defined above

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Other words from circle


circler \-k(ə-)lər \ noun

Examples of circle in a Sentence


She drew a circle around the correct answer. We formed a circle around the campfire. He looked old and tired, with dark circles under his eyes. She has a large circle of friends. She is well-known in banking circles.


He circled his arms around his wife's waist. His arms circled around his wife's waist. She circled the correct answer. The pilot circled the airport before landing. The halfback circled to the left.
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Recent Examples on the Web: Noun

Healing Birth Trauma Meets the last Thursday: Open circle for moms to share; babies welcome, 12:30-1:30 p.m. The Yoga Nest, 12165 Sheridan St., Cooper City. Mary Lou Cruz,, "Davie area events July 18-28," 14 July 2018 Manuel Oliver painted 17 small circles onto the wooden canvas alongside Lake Eola. Steven Lemongello,, "Parkland students, families bring 'Road to Change' tour to Orlando," 14 July 2018 Participants are observing peace circles offered to Chicago immigrants as a way of supporting residents and bridging gaps created by the latest immigration reforms. Vikki Ortiz,, "'Chicago is the lighthouse': Local Catholic leaders take the lead in supporting immigrants," 13 July 2018 At this moment, the work depicts an aerial view of the power plant, concentric circles of tile-like mirrors with a tower at its center that, all together, resembles an ancient, slate-gray sundial of sorts. Deborah Vankin,, "LACMA debuts its 'Solar Reserve,' a digital sculpture addressing energy conservation," 12 July 2018 The Hammonds were virtually unknown outside eastern Oregon ranching circles before 2016. Jake Bullinger, Outside Online, "Trump’s Pardon Condones Western Rebellion," 12 July 2018 That defensive, circle-the-wagons approach to Israel on the part of the Jewish Establishment was on full display in the summer of 2014. Abraham Riesman, Daily Intelligencer, "Can the young activists of IfNotNow change the conversation about Israel and the Palestinians, or will their contradictions hold them back?," 12 July 2018 Time it perfectly and a full moon — circle July 27 on your calendar — can rise simultaneously at dusk. Tom Stienstra,, "’Tis the season for ‘Dancing with Fog’," 12 July 2018 It is made up of six circles linked together to form a flower or daisy, the idea being that any bad spirits or energy that comes your way will get trapped in the swirling pattern. Sarah Lyons, Teen Vogue, "How to Make Friday the 13th Good Luck Charms," 12 July 2018

Recent Examples on the Web: Verb

Another family out boating on the lake stopped to pick him up, and immediately circled back to search for his girlfriend and her son. Keri Blakinger, Houston Chronicle, "Mother, 14-year-old son found floating in Lake Livingston after 7-hour search," 4 July 2018 Mara said no player on the roster was untouchable, and then circled back 48 hours later in an attempt to squash the debate that had taken over social media, the tabloids and talk radio. Art Stapleton, USA TODAY, "Giants training camp questions: Can Eli Manning reclaim his mojo?," 25 June 2018 IndyStar will continue to follow the Kendricks family and will circle back to see how zero waste roadtripping is going, so check back during the first week in July. Sarah Bowman, Indianapolis Star, "Carmel teacher's family road trip across the U.S. takes a 'trashy' turn," 19 June 2018 Now, to circle back to the burning (hyuck hyuck) question: How did Melissa's EasyBake cake turn out? Shanelle Drakeford, Allure, "Watch Melissa McCarthy Try 9 Things She's Never Done Before," 11 May 2018 Boca Juniors have moved to protect their star man Cristian Pavon by increasing his release clause to £37.5m, with several of Europe’s elite circling the winger., "Arsenal Suffer Blow in Pursuit of Boca Juniors Ace as Argentine Club Increase Asking Price to £37m," 12 July 2018 Conservatives, in this case, see themselves as a team, circling the wagons around one of their own. Laura Mcgann, Vox, "What Donald Trump and Jim Jordan really mean when they say “locker room talk”," 7 July 2018 Overhead a squadron of eight airplanes circled over the parade and followed it to the exposition grounds., "July 4, 1917: San Diego Honors New Citizens," 4 July 2018 The couple kicked off their On the Run Tour II in Cardiff, Wales on June 6, circling the globe until its final show in Seattle on Oct. 4. Maeve Mcdermott, USA TODAY, "Beyoncé shown stranded on floating stage in apparent concert mishap in Poland," 2 July 2018

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'circle.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

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First Known Use of circle


14th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1a


14th century, in the meaning defined at transitive sense 1

History and Etymology for circle


Middle English cercle, from Anglo-French, from Latin circulus, diminutive of circus circle, circus, from or akin to Greek krikos, kirkos ring; akin to Old English hring ring — more at ring


see circle entry 1

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Statistics for circle

Last Updated

6 Sep 2018

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for circle

The first known use of circle was in the 14th century

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More Definitions for circle



English Language Learners Definition of circle

 (Entry 1 of 2)

: a perfectly round shape : a line that is curved so that its ends meet and every point on the line is the same distance from the center

: a path that goes around a central point

: an arrangement of people or things that forms a circle



English Language Learners Definition of circle (Entry 2 of 2)

: to form a circle around (something)

: to draw a circle around (something)

: to move or go around (someone or something) in a circle


cir·cle | \ ˈsər-kəl \

Kids Definition of circle

 (Entry 1 of 2)

1 : a line that is curved so that its ends meet and every point on the line is the same distance from the center

2 : something in the form of a circle or part of a circle We gathered in a circle around the fireplace.

3 : cycle entry 1 sense 2, round The wheel has come full circle.

4 : a group of people sharing a common interest a reading circle a circle of friends


circled; circling

Kids Definition of circle (Entry 2 of 2)

1 : to form or draw a circle around Circle the correct answers.

2 : to move or revolve around Satellites circle the earth.

3 : to move in or as if in a circle Vultures circled overhead.


cir·cle | \ ˈsər-kəl \

Medical Definition of circle 

1a : a closed plane curve every point of which is equidistant from a fixed point within the curve

b : the plane surface bounded by such a curve

2 : something (as an anatomical part) in the form of a circle or section of a circle an arterial circle — see circle of willis

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More from Merriam-Webster on circle

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for circle

Spanish Central: Translation of circle

Nglish: Translation of circle for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of circle for Arabic Speakers

Comments on circle

What made you want to look up circle? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


alleviating pain or harshness

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