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 The last date to circulate a nominating petition for any of the positions is Dec. 21. Erin Yarnall,, "After 16 years, Gurnee mayor says she will not run for re-election: ‘I have left nothing on the table’," 12 Nov. 2020 Without limiting where people circulate or implementing other containment measures, fully one-third of the U.S. population would become infected with COVID-19 within a single month, according to the findings. Megan Cerullo, CBS News, "Restaurants, gyms, hotels pose highest COVID-19 risk, study says," 12 Nov. 2020 Countless millions have to circulate every day on the streets to feed their families. New York Times, "India’s Covid-19 Cases Have Plummeted. Many Fear a New Wave.," 11 Nov. 2020 But the NuScale reactor uses gravity and buoyancy to naturally circulate the cooling water. Popular Mechanics, "Get an Intimate Look at How Tiny Nuclear Reactors Are Changing Energy," 11 Nov. 2020 Some countries have been slow to resume, giving the virus free rein to circulate and spark new outbreaks. Leslie Roberts, Science | AAAS, "The polio eradication campaign is faltering. Can a new vaccine help it get back on track?," 10 Nov. 2020 The group also promotes a host of loosely connected and often disprovable theories, often using the hashtag #SaveTheChildren to circulate falsehoods. Nathan Bomey, USA TODAY, "Were QAnon supporters a force behind Trump's 'red wave' in 2020 election?," 6 Nov. 2020 Industry experts agree that the key is drawing travelers who will circulate their dollars in the host city. Kevin Williams, Star Tribune, "Ohio industrial city converts former mill into giant indoor sports complex," 4 Nov. 2020 The image started to circulate online along with other pictures from his campsite, including his tent and his hiking poles. Nicholas Thompson, Wired, "A Nameless Hiker and the Case the Internet Can’t Crack," 2 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.

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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

16 Nov 2020

Cite this Entry

“Circulate.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 25 Nov. 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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