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

There were big circles and squares outside the buildings to ride our Big Wheels around. Amy Schwabe, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, "Tosa's Ruckus and Glee is celebrating its third birthday with a Big Wheels race," 11 July 2018 In the image above, PDS 70 (the young dwarf star) is the black circle at the center, according to a release from the ESO. Sarah Gray, Fortune, "Watch Incredible, First-Ever Footage of a Planet Being Born," 5 July 2018 For instance, the little flowers on the Balance Shot are actually four circles coming together to signify the four benefits of the product coming together. Devon Abelman, Allure, "Tarte Helps Relaunch Its Sister Skin-Care Brand, Awake," 26 June 2018 There will also be a drum circle from 3 to 7:30 p.m. on the Presidents Way Lawn. Pam Kragen,, "Huge harp highlights free music day in Carlsbad," 20 June 2018 There will be a storybook circle at 1:30 p.m. and 3 p.m. Recommended for ages 3 and older. Staff Report, Houston Chronicle, "Celebrate Father’s Day at the MFAH," 12 June 2018 At the age of five, Jacques Garcia, the titan designer known even by those outside the regular circles for creating icons in the hotel world, started to visit chateaux all over France with his father. Marie-noëlle Bauer, Condé Nast Traveler, "How the Man Behind the World's Greatest Hotels Spends His Time Off," 8 June 2018 The birthday party Sunday at Fort Sam Houston’s golf club closed a big, big circle for Earlyne Sheets. Sig Christenson, San Antonio Express-News, "At 100, Army nurse looks back on D-Day," 3 June 2018 Plymouth South 10, North Quincy 0 — Standout pitcher Amelia Freitas spun another gem, tallying 13 strikeouts from the circle for the Panthers. Dan Shulman,, "Kelly Nelson turns in another dominant performance as Norton blanks Walpole in softball," 31 May 2018

Recent Examples on the Web: Verb

And for a Royals season that was circling the drain already, perhaps squeezing some value out of Hammel had the potential to turn into a minor victory in a forgotten season. Jesse Newell, kansascity, "Why Hammel's struggles — including in a 10-5 loss — come at a bad time for the Royals," 6 July 2018 Take a leisurely bike ride on the uncrowded path that circles the bay, rent a kayak or bliss out in a paddleboard yoga class. Dorothy O'donnell,, "On a weekend escape to Pacific Beach, you can party on the boardwalk and chill on the bay," 5 July 2018 For years, asteroids were thought of as the leftovers of planet formation - chunks of material that never quite made it to planet size and that were drawn into the crowded belt of rocky remnants that circles the sun between Mars and Jupiter. Sarah Kaplan,, "Many asteroids might be remnants of 5 destroyed worlds, scientists say," 3 July 2018 Located to the immediate northeast of the I-465 beltway that circles Indianapolis, Hamilton County brings a lot to the table for current and prospective residents. Shelley Specchio, Indianapolis Star, "Discovering Indianapolis’ vibrant neighborhoods: Hamilton County," 29 June 2018 Indeed, big distributors instantly began circling around it before it was acquired this morning by Focus Features. John Powers, Vogue, "At Cannes 2018, Life After Netflix—And the Selfie Ban," 9 May 2018 Collaborative parking works by using data collected by the parking sensors on other cars that have already circled the lot and sharing it with newcomers. Alex Davies, WIRED, "Forget Self Driving. The Future is in Self Parking," 25 Mar. 2018 Hampton then allegedly circled the parking lot twice and fired two rounds in an attempt to scare the men, police said. Megan Jones, Aurora Beacon-News, "North Aurora man facing weapons charges after shooting in Aurora grocery store parking lot," 26 June 2018 Rumors of the incident have been circling for months, and the Bucks have already announced that body camera footage of the incident would be released on Wednesday. Paula Rogo,, "Milwaukee Braces For Video Release Of NBA Rookie Sterling Brown's Violent Arrest," 23 May 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

18 Oct 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).


lying above or upon

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