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 At the very least, businesses should try to open as many windows and doors as possible to circulate air and give virus particles the chance to clear out. oregonlive, "Anna Canzano: Workplace safety and hygiene amid COVID19," 18 May 2020 But even before Moore moved into her office, senior leaders at the health department were circulating published reports from St. Louis that Moore was a difficult boss. Dan Horn,, "Who's running Cincinnati's health department? Some fear a power struggle during pandemic.," 18 May 2020 In a video circulated online, health care workers slowly turned their backs as Wilmès’ motorcade drove onto the premises. Fox News, "Belgian medics turn their backs on prime minister in silent protest over coronavirus response," 18 May 2020 There should be frequent handwashing during the day for children and staff; regular cleaning and disinfecting of the facilities; and an effort to get as much fresh air circulating through the premises as possible. Elissa Strauss, CNN, "Preschools and childcare might reopen soon. Should you send your kid?," 16 May 2020 Rumors also started to circulate that Peter was planning to get rid of Catherine, and momentum quickly gathered to arrange a coup d’état that would force him to abdicate and install her as ruler. Suyin Haynes, Time, "The Great Is Only 'Occasionally' True. But These Aspects of Hulu's Catherine the Great Series Are Based in History," 15 May 2020 The posts come after speculations about their break-up circulated on social media. Hanna Flanagan,, "Cara Delevingne Asks Fans to Stop 'Hating' on Ex Ashley Benson After She's Seen Kissing G-Eazy," 15 May 2020 However, the article links protecting Cubans from the virus with defending them against those circulating opinions that have not been approved by state entities. Dan Chiasson, The New York Review of Books, "Pandemic Journal," 15 May 2020 For an extra measure, add an apple or an already ripe banana to increase the amount of ethylene gas circulating around in the bag. Patricia S York, Southern Living, "How to Ripen Bananas in the Oven," 14 May 2020

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

22 May 2020

Cite this Entry

“Circulate.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 1 Jun. 2020.

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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.
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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