cir·cu·late | \ ˈsər-kyə-ˌlāt \
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 \-ˌlā-tə-bəl \ adjective
circulative \-ˌlā-tiv \ adjective
circulator \-ˌlā-tər \ 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

The draft, obtained by Bloomberg, was penned by Congressional critics of the deal and is now circulating the House of the Representatives. Nick Statt, The Verge, "Sprint’s ties to Chinese firm Huawei could complicate T-Mobile merger," 3 July 2018 Many myths still circulate among doctors; a 2012 study published in Obstetrics & Gynecology, for example, found that about 30 percent of providers mistakenly thought the devices are not safe for women without children. Kayla Webley Adler, Marie Claire, "The IUD Vs. The World," 28 June 2018 All of which caused the White House to issue a statement Thursday addressing the smears by ancient association that are by now circulating widely on the internet and in the press corps. The Editorial Board, WSJ, "The Smears Begin on Kavanaugh," 12 July 2018 Patterson's comments about divorce, which took place in 2000 but were widely circulated last weekend, caused Southern Baptist leaders to scramble to denounce domestic abuse. The Washington Post,, "Southern Baptist leader who advised abused women not to divorce says he has nothing to apologize for," 4 May 2018 Video of the chaos was circulated on Facebook Tuesday night but has since been removed. Carol Robinson,, "Innocent teen bystander dies from gunshot wound to head: Huffman High grieves again," 25 Apr. 2018 The number really took off in the late 1980s when flyers were circulated at Dead concerts proclaiming 420 to be the password of stoner culture. sacbee, "Why is 420 associated with pot? Blame it on this group of high-school stoners | The Sacramento Bee," 20 Apr. 2018 Photos of the message, written in black marker, were circulated later that night through social media. Dwight Adams, Indianapolis Star, "Here's what we know now about DePauw University protests over racist incidents," 19 Apr. 2018 Intimate photos of the aftermath of the abuse circulated all over the internet. Kathryn Lindsay,, "Why Be Engaged When You Can Be An Ex?," 13 July 2018

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

12 Sep 2018

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 \
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 \
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).


occurring twice a year or every two years

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