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

Keep scrolling for more

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 Unlike frying, which uses oil or butter for heat transfer, convection uses a fan to quickly circulate hot air. Christine Byrne, Outside Online, "The Complete Guide to Air Fryers," 7 Apr. 2021 Indoor golfers can stay warm during cold weather when the heat is turned on, or stay cool under the shade while fans circulate fresh summer air. Eddie Morales, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, "These 7 indoor and outdoor golf venues in the Milwaukee suburbs offer a lot more than just golf," 6 Apr. 2021 Among other things, owners Cheryl and Ed Casey appreciated that the top of each unit can be opened to circulate air more rapidly between groups. Michael Russell | The Oregonian/oregonlive, oregonlive, "Cabanas, igloos and yurts (oh my!): See how 4 Oregon restaurants are navigating pandemic-time private dining with style," 4 Mar. 2021 Windows are cracked and fans help circulate the air. Loren Holmes, Anchorage Daily News, "When the pandemic hit, this Anchorage elementary school teacher moved her classroom outdoors," 14 Feb. 2021 Instead, this appliance uses a high heat temperature and an internal fan to circulate air. Popular Science, "The best microwaves: This way for buttery popcorn and tempting leftovers," 22 Jan. 2021 If this is you, keep the windows open, ideally for cross-ventilation to circulate fresh air into the home. Madelyn Fernstrom, NBC News, "Ask yourself these 7 questions if you're considering holiday travel amid Covid-19," 16 Nov. 2020 The bag is designed to circulate the air and ozone evenly and the waterproof, air-tight zippers ensure no odors penetrate to the clothes inside. The Editors, Field & Stream, "The Best Cabela’s Cyber Monday Deals: Early Bargains Before the Holiday," 16 Nov. 2020 There is an industrywide push to refine and better circulate the air in common areas, elevators and lobbies to reduce the spread of the virus, said Douglas Mass, the president of Cosentini Associates, a building systems engineering firm. Stefanos Chen, New York Times, "Covid Pushes Real Estate Into the Future," 13 Nov. 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.

See More

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

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about circulate

Time Traveler for circulate

Time Traveler

The first known use of circulate was in 1603

See more words from the same year

Statistics for circulate

Last Updated

9 May 2021

Cite this Entry

“Circulate.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 9 May. 2021.

Style: MLA
MLACheck Mark Icon ChicagoCheck Mark Icon APACheck Mark Icon Merriam-WebsterCheck Mark Icon

Keep scrolling for more

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

Keep scrolling for more

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).


Test Your Vocabulary

Star Wars Words Quiz

  • cu jedi training
  • The bounty portion of bounty hunters (such as Boba Fett) comes from a Latin word meaning
True or False

Test your knowledge - and maybe learn something along the way.


Anagram puzzles meet word search.

Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!