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

Keep scrolling for more

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.
See More

Recent Examples on the Web

In a recent clip circulating on YouTube, a fan asked Noah about the fate of Will's dog Chester, who was seen in season 1 but not in season 2. Kara Nesvig, Teen Vogue, "Noah Schnapp Accidentally Shares "Stranger Things 3" Spoiler," 2 July 2018 As groups came together in city parks and downtown squares across the nation, photos quickly started circulating on social media. Washington Post,, "Hundreds of thousands march across US to protest family separation policy," 30 June 2018 Some of the her nude shots have already started circulating on social media, including a few tweeted out by Charlotte Flair herself. Mark Price, charlotteobserver, "Ric Flair's daughter, WWE star Charlotte Flair, featured naked in ESPN's 'Body Issue'," 27 June 2018 Reports of new Apple audio gear have circulated for a few months now. Jeff Dunn, Ars Technica, "Report: New AirPods, Apple noise-cancelling headphones pegged for 2019," 25 June 2018 Within an hour, two videos circulated on social media showing Onfroy slumped in the driver's seat of his $150,000-plus sports car while bystanders and then BSO deputies checked his pulse. Monique O. Madan, Alex Harris, Carli Teproff And Rebecca Ellis, miamiherald, "Rapper XXXTentacion shot dead outside South Florida motorcycle shop," 19 June 2018 Update 6/15: Olivine is not raining down on Hawaii from the Kilauea eruption—at least not in the way that the photos circulating on social media suggest. David Grossman, Popular Mechanics, "Hawaii's Erupting Volcano Is Making It Rain Green Gems (Updated)," 14 June 2018 Photos and videos circulating on the internet appeared to show workers taking out benches from the east grandstand. Andrew Greif,, "Oregon Ducks bow out of 3x3 World Cup against eventual champs," 12 June 2018 Videos and images circulating on social media show several police vehicles as well as heavily armed officers at the scene. Frank Andrews And Gianluca Mezzofiore, CNN, "Armed man takes hostages in Paris," 12 June 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.

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

Statistics for circulate

Last Updated

10 Oct 2018

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for circulate

The first known use of circulate was in 1603

See more words from the same year

Keep scrolling for more

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

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).


exaggeratedly or childishly emotional

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

Words from Greek and Roman Mythology Quiz

  • the-triumph-of-venus-by-alessandro-magnasco
  • Boreal comes from the name of the ancient Greek god of which wind?
How Strong Is Your Vocabulary?

Test your vocabulary with our 10-question quiz!

Word Winder's CrossWinder

Test Your Knowledge - and learn some interesting things along the way.


Love words? Need even more definitions?

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