cir·​cu·​i·​tous | \ (ˌ)sər-ˈkyü-ə-təs How to pronounce circuitous (audio) \

Definition of circuitous

1 : having a circular or winding course a circuitous route a circuitous journey by snowmobile
2 : not being forthright or direct in language or action a circuitous explanation His circuitous form of logic was mind-boggling.

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Other Words from circuitous

circuitously adverb
circuitousness noun

Synonyms & Antonyms for circuitous


circular, indirect, roundabout


direct, straight, straightforward

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Did You Know?

If you guessed that "circuitous" is related to "circuit," you're right - both words come from Latin circuitus, the past participle of the verb circumire, meaning "to go around." "Circumire" is derived in turn from Latin circum, meaning "around," plus "ire," which means "to go." Other "circum" descendants making the rounds in English include "circumference" ("the perimeter of a circle"), "circumvent" (one meaning of which is "to make a circuit around"), "circumlocution" (the act of "talking around" a subject), and "circumnavigate" ("to go around"). There's also the prefix circum-, which means "around" or "about," and the familiar word circumstance, which describes a condition or event that "stands around" another.

Examples of circuitous in a Sentence

Their logic seems a bit circuitous. we took a circuitous route to the airport so as to avoid the massive traffic jam on the highway

Recent Examples on the Web

As Ars reported at the time, the event caused traffic to Google to take a circuitous path through China and Russia due to the misannounced routes. Dan Goodin, Ars Technica, "How 3ve’s BGP hijackers eluded the Internet—and made $29M," 21 Dec. 2018 The process of moving money into the country is already circuitous. Julie Wernau, WSJ, "Unbanked: What Happens When a Country Is Financially Cut Off?," 22 June 2018 For members of the Hagerstown Suns, however, the leap from the low Class A South Atlantic League to the Washington Nationals is far more circuitous. Gabe Lacques, USA TODAY, "Fortnite: How a video game became baseball's most addictive pastime, from MLB to Little League," 21 May 2018 More from Mansion Because of the age of the heritage house, obtaining building permits was a slow, circuitous process. Ruth Bloomfield, WSJ, "Behind the Scenes of a London Townhouse’s Modern Makeover," 15 Aug. 2018 In fact, Jacobs took a very circuitous route to her present career, at age 75, as a botanical artist. Jeanette Marantos,, "This L.A. artist grows luscious fruits and veggies — in watercolor," 12 Apr. 2018 The vehicles also routinely take circuitous routes picking up and dropping off other customers, leaving riders without bathroom breaks or food for long periods. Paul Berger, WSJ, "MTA’s Cost-Saving Paratransit Program Proves Too Popular, Runs Up Big Tab," 5 Aug. 2018 Ray had arrived in Los Angeles on Nov. 19, 1967, by way of a circuitous and highly criminal route. Matt Pearce,, "When James Earl Ray came to L.A., months before he killed Martin Luther King, he found a place where he fit in," 4 Apr. 2018 However, the journey was a circuitous one after the Crimson Tide lost its final regular-season game and controversially entered the Playoff as the No. Eddie Timanus, USA TODAY, "Alabama finishes No. 1 in final Amway Coaches Poll for fifth time in nine years," 9 Jan. 2018

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'circuitous.' 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 circuitous

1664, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for circuitous

perhaps from Medieval Latin circuitosus, from Latin circuitus — see circuit entry 1

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Last Updated

4 Feb 2019

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Time Traveler for circuitous

The first known use of circuitous was in 1664

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More Definitions for circuitous



English Language Learners Definition of circuitous

: not straight, short, and direct
: not said or done simply or clearly

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More from Merriam-Webster on circuitous

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with circuitous

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for circuitous

Spanish Central: Translation of circuitous

Nglish: Translation of circuitous for Spanish Speakers

Comments on circuitous

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


grandiloquent, ostentatious, or bombastic

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