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 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.
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Recent Examples on the Web Several of Clarke's former Kentucky teammates began posting condolence messages onto their personal social media accounts as the news began to circulate Thursday evening. Jon Hale, The Courier-Journal, "Former Kentucky basketball guard Terrence Clarke dies in car crash," 23 Apr. 2021 In what would have been an industry-shaking move, rumors began to circulate that MGM had approached major streaming platforms like Netflix to purchase the rights to No Time to Die for a whopping $600 million. Jordan Lebeau, Quartz, "MGM hopes for a James Bond rescue with “No Time to Die”," 19 Apr. 2021 Reports that Barker and Kardashian were dating first began to circulate in January, but the pair have been close friends for years. Emily Dixon, Marie Claire, "Travis Barker Celebrated Kourtney Kardashian's Birthday With a PDA-Heavy Tribute," 19 Apr. 2021 After Trump's claims, a number of baseless conspiracy theories from Trump supporters and right-wing media about fraud and overturning the election began to circulate. Jazmin Goodwin, CNN, "Dominion lawyer alleges Fox News 'recklessly disregarded the truth' on 2020 election claims," 28 Mar. 2021 When news of Baylor’s death began to circulate on Monday, Johnson went to social media to share stories and connect with friends from his Crenshaw High days, with grown men sending crying emojis to one another over the loss of their idol. Dan Woike, Los Angeles Times, "NBA legends like Dr. J agree: Elgin Baylor revolutionized game," 23 Mar. 2021 Despite it’s underwhelming release, rumors began to circulate around Hollywood that the film’s director, Zack Snyder, had been cueing up a director’s cut version of the blockbuster superhero team-up that would appease those fans. oregonlive, "Justice League Zack Snyder cut releases today on HBO Max | How to watch without cable, plus a look at the cast," 18 Mar. 2021 As the fake mirror reveal began to circulate, many began picking apart influencers' content to identify the fake mirrors. Sarah Midkiff,, "Turns Out, Influencer Mirror Selfies Are All A Lie," 17 Mar. 2021 Word began to circulate that the league might play games without spectators. Chris Hays,, "Remembering the Magic’s last road trip before the pandemic," 15 Mar. 2021

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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Time Traveler for circulate

Time Traveler

The first known use of circulate was in 1603

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Statistics for circulate

Last Updated

27 Apr 2021

Cite this Entry

“Circulate.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 6 May. 2021.

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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

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