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

This was predictable, even if Lakers general manager Rob Pelinka took a strange, circuitous route to reach this point. Dieter Kurtenbach, The Mercury News, "Kurtenbach: The real issue the Lakers present to the Warriors this summer," 28 June 2019 Particularly hard hit will be trucks carrying hazardous materials, which are not permitted to drive through the Vista Ridge Tunnel on U.S. 26 and must take a circuitous route around Portland., "Buckle up: Northwest Cornelius Pass Road will close for 11 weeks, expect delays and detours abound," 24 June 2019 Teradata has taken a circuitous route over the past four decades. San Diego Union-Tribune, "Teradata adds workers in San Diego, marks 40 years in data management, analysis," 18 June 2019 In the meantime, his career took a circuitous route. Rachel Syme, The New Republic, "The Outlaw World of Deadwood," 6 June 2019 How the state sought and got the money is a circuitous tale, chronicled by the Herald/Times, that required the intervention of Scott and included Sen. Marco Rubio, the federal Election Assistance Commission and county supervisors. Steve Bousquet, miamiherald, "Is your ballot secure? Florida gets $19.2 million in federal money to make sure it is," 7 June 2018 Travel remained slow and circuitous in the Hamden and Brookfield areas Wednesday, where felled trees and wires left many roads impassable. Matthew Ormseth,, "Connecticut Sifts Through Wreckage From Two Tornadoes, Macroburst," 17 May 2018 Their works present as straight pictures, even if they've been composed through circuitous means. Leah Ollman,, "Cut, folded, pasted: Photography takes a twist and turn in the Getty's 'Paper Play'," 24 Apr. 2018 Justice Department official Bruce Ohr found his way into the Russia investigation in a circuitous way. Matt Zapotosky, Washington Post, "Why the Nunes memo takes aim at a Justice Dept. official specializing in gangs and drugs," 2 Feb. 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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Statistics for circuitous

Last Updated

8 Jul 2019

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Time Traveler for circuitous

The first known use of circuitous was in 1664

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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).


to form ideas or theories about something

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