circle

noun, often attributive
cir·​cle | \ ˈsər-kəl How to pronounce circle (audio) \

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.

circle

verb
circled; circling\ ˈsər-​k(ə-​)liŋ How to pronounce circling (audio) \

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

Noun

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

Verb

circler \ ˈsər-​k(ə-​)lər How to pronounce circler (audio) \ noun

Examples of circle in a Sentence

Noun

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.

Verb

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

Now massive protests have spotlighted Algeria’s style of governance, as Mr. Bouteflika’s circle struggles to navigate the country’s most serious crisis since a devastating civil war in the 1990s. Benoit Faucon, WSJ, "Massive Protests Present Big Test for Secretive Algerian Government," 15 Mar. 2019 Bringing up an argument too often can lead to talking in circles, not a resolution. Caitlin Moscatello, Woman's Day, "10 Things You Should Never Do After a Fight With Your Partner," 20 Feb. 2019 The invite list for the soirée reads like a who's who of Meghan's pre-royal inner circle: Serena Williams, Janina Gavankar, Markus Anderson, and of course, her best friend Jessica Mulroney. Caroline Hallemann, Town & Country, "Meet Meghan Markle's Best Friend Jessica Mulroney," 20 Feb. 2019 Welcome to the winners' circle, Honeywell HCM350W. There are so, so many reasons this humidifier is superior to every other model on the market. Stephanie Shore Fisher, Country Living, "The Honeywell HCM350W Humidifier Is Single-Handedly Helping Me Survive the Winter," 12 Feb. 2019 The memo sparked outrage inside Ducey’s circle and among broader swaths of influential Republicans, who felt her team did not own up to its strategic mistakes and was trying to deflect blame for her loss to Democratic Rep. Kyrsten Sinema. Li Zhou, Vox, "Arizona Sen. Jon Kyl is officially stepping down on December 31," 14 Dec. 2018 Cohen is the first and, so far, only member of Trump’s circle during two years of investigations to go into open court and implicate him in a crime, though whether a president can be prosecuted under the Constitution is an open question. Tom Hays, The Seattle Times, "‘Dirty deeds’: Ex-Trump lawyer Cohen gets 3 years in prison," 12 Dec. 2018 At the annual World’s Ugliest Dog contest in Petaluma, California, on June 23, Zsa Zsa slobbered her way to the winner’s circle to win $1,500, a supersized trophy and a trip to New York for media appearances. Karen Mizoguchi, PEOPLE.com, "Zsa Zsa, Winner of the World's Ugliest Dog Contest, Dies Two Weeks After Being Crowned," 10 July 2018 His boosters, sensing this weekend that Hardiman could be ascending on the president’s list, have been busy making phone calls to friends in Trump’s inner circle. Robert Costa, Washington Post, "Trump weighs top picks for Supreme Court amid last-minute maneuvering," 9 July 2018

Recent Examples on the Web: Verb

Hawks and drones circled overhead, as the mayor showed U.S. Rep. Mike Rogers around his rural town of 5,000 residents, which suffered extensive damage in the storm Sunday afternoon. Kate King, WSJ, "Tornado-Torn Alabama Community Begins Long Haul of Rebuilding," 5 Mar. 2019 Around the gilded bar circled socialites, influencers, glamazons, pretty boys, and pop idols of every shape, gender, color, and age. Ian Malone, Vogue, "Disco Was Not Dead at The Blonds’s After-Party," 13 Feb. 2019 Air Force gunships typically circle over targets at high altitudes, drawing lazy circles in the sky to keep the side-firing weapons trained on targets below. Kyle Mizokami, Popular Mechanics, "Watch a AC-130 Gunship Devastate Targets on the Ground with Its Howitzer," 16 Jan. 2019 The course circles the entire circumference of Mont Blanc, the tallest peak in the Alps and Western Europe, according to National Geographic. Jenny Mccoy, SELF, "5 Things to Know About the 106-Mile Ultra Trail du Mont Blanc Race," 4 Sep. 2018 Despite the howling gales and thunder and lightning, Zwart was able to land the plane safely after circling the airport for more than hour. Sam Blum, Popular Mechanics, "8 Emergency Landings That Rival the 'Miracle on the Hudson'," 15 Jan. 2019 Andreea Diaconu was an unusually tall eleven-year-old when scouts started circling. Maya Singer, Vogue, "Why the Fashion World Needs to Commit to an 18+ Modeling Standard," 16 Aug. 2018 Their charter flight had to stop to refuel on Colorado Springs, and a storm nearby had the plane circling the airport for 20 minutes. Brody Miller, NOLA.com, "'It was flat out cold': LSU baseball takes in Corvallis Regional," 1 June 2018 The commissioner is an avid cyclist and arrived at the Monday press conference by bike, circling along Lamar for local media. Dug Begley, Houston Chronicle, "Ellis commits $10 million to Houston area bike efforts," 16 Apr. 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

Noun

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

Verb

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

History and Etymology for circle

Noun and Verb

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

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Statistics for circle

Last Updated

22 Mar 2019

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

circle

noun

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

circle

verb

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

circle

noun
cir·​cle | \ ˈsər-kəl How to pronounce circle (audio) \

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

circle

verb
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.

circle

noun
cir·​cle | \ ˈsər-kəl How to pronounce circle (audio) \

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

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