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 That means poliovirus, like the coronavirus, can circulate widely before being identified. Kim Tingley, New York Times, "Watching What Goes Down Our Toilets Could Help Keep a Pandemic From Spiraling Out of Control," 24 Nov. 2020 Shortly after news broke that both U.S. Senate seats in Georgia would head to a runoff, two dates started to circulate on social media: Dec. 7, the deadline to register to vote for the runoffs, and Jan. 5. Lindsay Schnell, USA TODAY, "With Senate on the line, Georgia activists are sliding into voters' DMs before election," 23 Nov. 2020 Similar conspiracy theories still circulate about the 1991 Russian coup: the plotters didn’t close the airports or turn off the Russian President Boris Yeltsin’s home phone. Masha Gessen, The New Yorker, "The Coup Stage of Donald Trump’s Presidency," 20 Nov. 2020 Others will be particularly good at protecting those at greatest risk of dying if they do get infected, and they can be used on residents of long-term care facilities, prison inmates and others who don’t circulate so widely. Melissa Healy, Los Angeles Times, "Four takeaways from the race for a COVID-19 vaccine," 18 Nov. 2020 Such flare-ups offer more evidence that people were infected at those establishments and serve as spreader events for the virus to circulate in communities. Mary Lynn Smith, Star Tribune, "Tougher enforcement of Minnesota bars, restaurants not on COVID menu," 15 Nov. 2020 Partial tent enclosures, where at least half of the tent’s sidewall surface area is open, are regulated the same as any outdoor dining, the idea being that with so much open space, air can easily circulate through. Emma Court,, "Outdoor Dining Tents Raise Questions of Virus Safety as Winter Nears," 13 Nov. 2020 To assuage customers’ concerns about cleanliness facial coverings are required and dealers like John Hine Mazda in Mission Valley have assigned an employee to constantly circulate around the showroom, wiping down surfaces with disinfectant. Rob Nikolewski, San Diego Union-Tribune, "Car and truck sales still down in California, but the numbers are improving," 11 Nov. 2020 Though the lab didn’t circulate anything at the time, her former coworker Saunders says that when Black Lives Matter protests gained momentum this summer in the wake of George Floyd’s killing, the lab finally issued guidance. Lily Hay Newman, Wired, "The Unsinkable Maddie Stone, Google's Bug-Hunting Badass," 25 Oct. 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

28 Nov 2020

Cite this Entry

“Circulate.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 2 Dec. 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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