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

Other Words from circulate

circulatable \ ˈsər-​kyə-​ˌlā-​tə-​bəl How to pronounce circulate (audio) \ adjective
circulative \ ˈsər-​kyə-​ˌlā-​tiv How to pronounce circulate (audio) \ adjective
circulator \ ˈsər-​kyə-​ˌlā-​tər How to pronounce circulate (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. See More
Recent Examples on the Web But within days, doubts about whether Smollett was telling the truth began to circulate on social media. Washington Post, 7 Oct. 2021 Anderson said he and his friends were detained overnight, as video of the incident began to circulate on social media. Morgan Winsor, ABC News, 15 June 2021 As one of few categories of workers permitted to circulate on the streets of Paris at that time, Obeid had the city to himself. Lindsey Tramuta, Fortune, 22 Apr. 2021 Soon after, the image, taken by photographer Brendan Smialowski for Getty Images, began to circulate on social media inserted into a wide array of photographs and scenes from movies and artworks. Mike Ives And Daniel Victor New York Times, Star Tribune, 21 Jan. 2021 The number of new Covid cases has been ticking upward in recent weeks, as highly contagious omicron subvariants BA.2 and BA.2.12.1 continue to circulate. NBC News, 20 Apr. 2022 And more than a century later, the virus’s descendants continue to circulate as part of the seasonal flu rotation. Eleanor Cummins, The New Republic, 10 Mar. 2022 That means the virus will likely continue to circulate within the population, but at low rates or seasonally. Dr. Jay Bhatt, ABC News, 5 Mar. 2022 Footage of the murder, captured by the shooter, would continue to circulate online, according to the Post. Chris Harris,, 24 Feb. 2022 See More

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.

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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Time Traveler for circulate

Time Traveler

The first known use of circulate was in 1603

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Dictionary Entries Near circulate

circular velocity


circulating assets

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Statistics for circulate

Last Updated

21 May 2022

Cite this Entry

“Circulate.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 26 May. 2022.

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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

More from Merriam-Webster on circulate

Nglish: Translation of circulate for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of circulate for Arabic Speakers


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