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

Some in Cincinnati criticized Braun and Dierking for their participation, and some called for a boycott of the channel as the video circulated. Sarah Brookbank,, "News anchor Rob Braun signs off at WKRC Local 12 in Cincinnati, Ohio, for the final time," 29 June 2019 There have been stories circulating about Irving’s behavior over the past two years, including his disregard for team officials and anger with his younger teammates. Gary Washburn,, "Kyrie Irving getting more blame than he deserves for Celtics’ disappointing season," 29 June 2019 Practically speaking, that means that dust mites, pollen and other allergens will make their way into your unsealed duct system and will be circulated throughout your home. Jessica Levy, Indianapolis Star, "4 ways this home repair will lower your energy bills and boost your health," 28 June 2019 Medical authorities in the U.S. in 2000 declared the measles to be eliminated, which means the disease was no longer circulating continuously within the country. WSJ, "Corrections & Amplifications," 27 June 2019 The image of the two dead bodies has gone viral, sparking a debate over whether the photos should be published and circulated across social media. Obed Manuel, Dallas News, "Reports: Drowned Salvadoran father and daughter were heading to Dallas," 26 June 2019 Van Wagenen was asked whether the circulating rumors were accurate — in regards to deGrom being forced to exit from his start as a direct result of the general manager’s command. Deesha Thosar,, "Brodie Van Wagenen denies allegations of providing in-game directives to Mickey Callaway," 25 June 2019 There have also been rumours circulating about the acquisition of Hector Bellerin or Elseid Hysaj but those would be very unlikely considering Atléti have more pressing issues elsewhere in the squad., "Atlético Madrid: Predicting Diego Simeone's Starting XI for the 2019/20 Season," 23 June 2019 That prompted public health officials to warn that a particularly potent batch of the drug appeared to be circulating. Erin Allday,, "Fentanyl rising as killer in San Francisco — 57 dead in a year," 23 June 2019

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

4 Jul 2019

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 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

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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).


to form ideas or theories about something

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