cir·​cu·​late | \ ˈsər-kyə-ˌlāt How to pronounce circulate (audio) \
circulated; circulating

Definition of circulate

intransitive verb

1 : to move in a circle, circuit, or orbit especially : to follow a course that returns to the starting point blood circulates through the body
2 : to pass from person to person or place to place: such as
a : to flow without obstruction
b : to become well-known or widespread rumors circulated through the town
c : to go from group to group at a social gathering
d : to come into the hands of readers specifically : to become sold or distributed

transitive verb

: to cause to circulate

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Other Words from circulate

circulatable \ ˈsər-​kyə-​ˌlā-​tə-​bəl How to pronounce circulatable (audio) \ adjective
circulative \ ˈsər-​kyə-​ˌlā-​tiv How to pronounce circulative (audio) \ adjective
circulator \ ˈsər-​kyə-​ˌlā-​tər How to pronounce circulator (audio) \ noun

Examples of circulate in a Sentence

Blood circulates through the body. Steam circulates in the pipes. A pump circulates the water through the filter. Rumors are circulating around town. The report circulated among the students. Stories were circulated about mismanagement. He is circulating a petition asking for a new election. She circulated among her guests.
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Recent Examples on the Web

Here’s an example of a basic question that animates how elementary students learn under NGSS, in this case about how water circulates in the earth’s atmosphere: Where do puddles go? David Holahan,, "Connecticut Science Center: Where learning is fun and serious business, too," 11 July 2019 The carbon cycle is the process in which carbon circulates in various forms through Nature. Martin Finucane,, "MIT professor renews warning about the possibility of mass extinction event in ocean," 11 July 2019 Though talk of the developments has circulated in town for months, the agreement marked the ceremonial start of a conversation between the city and the developer. Faith E. Pinho,, "Laguna Beach begins preparations for 6 major developments," 11 July 2019 And the amount of Bourbon virus circulating in the culture plummeted nearly a million-fold. Megan Molteni, WIRED, "The Meat-Allergy Tick Also Carries a Mystery Killer Virus," 8 July 2019 There are only about 1,500 electric vehicles circulating in Thailand. Ephrat Livni, Quartz, "The Tesla of Thailand is also an electric utility," 30 June 2019 Regional authorities estimated the measure, targeting gasoline vehicles from 2005 or older and diesel cars from 2010 or older, affects nearly 60 percent of vehicles circulating in the Paris region. Fox News, "Europe heatwave breaks records in Germany, Czech Republic as region sizzles," 27 June 2019 Mankiw estimates that there are roughly 4 million copies of the book circulating in the world, with about 2 million in the United States. Robert Samuelson, Twin Cities, "Robert Samuelson: Tear up the (economic) textbooks — and start over!," 26 June 2019 But Awawdeh was identified as the robber after his image circulated in the media and a former friend identified him, the criminal complaint states. Alexandra Kukulka,, "Des Plaines man arrested in connection with Fifth Third bank robbery in Northbrook," 20 June 2019

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

1603, in the meaning defined at intransitive sense 1

History and Etymology for circulate

Latin circulatus, past participle of circulare, from circulus

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Statistics for circulate

Last Updated

18 Jul 2019

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for circulate

The first known use of circulate was in 1603

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More Definitions for circulate


cir·​cu·​late | \ ˈsər-kyə-ˌlāt How to pronounce circulate (audio) \
circulated; circulating

Kids Definition of circulate

1 : to move around in a course Blood circulates in the body.
2 : to pass or be passed from place to place or from person to person The rumor circulated around the school.


intransitive verb
cir·​cu·​late | \ ˈsər-kyə-ˌlāt How to pronounce circulate (audio) \
circulated; circulating

Medical Definition of circulate

: to flow or be propelled naturally through a closed system of channels (as blood vessels) blood circulates through the body

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Comments on circulate

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


characterized by aphorism

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