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

An online petition established in support of Mr. Ito put a disclaimer at the top that it had been set up before news of the emails circulated. Marc Tracy, New York Times, "Director of M.I.T.’s Media Lab Resigns After Taking Money From Jeffrey Epstein," 7 Sep. 2019 But the confirmation of Brett Kavanaugh last year was a wakeup call, so much so that Democratic National Committee chair Tom Perez was among those who spoke to a Demand Justice event aimed at circulating ideas for reclaiming the judiciary. Osita Nwanevu, The New Republic, "The Grassroots Battle to Save Democracy," 5 Sep. 2019 Rumors have circulated regarding Awkwafina possibly lending her voice talent to the role of Scuttle, but that's also not confirmed. Lauren Rearick, Teen Vogue, "Christian Navarro of “13 Reasons Why” Said He’s Reportedly Trying Out for the Role of Prince Eric in “The Little Mermaid”," 4 Sep. 2019 Bad actors may circulate propaganda to no effect—only election day votes will reveal their impact. Olivia Goldhill, Quartz, "There will be election manipulation in 2020. Scientists can’t stop it, but they can study it," 3 Sep. 2019 Robin Lebowitz of Plantation is frustrated by misinformation and speculation circulating about the storm. Cindy Krischer Goodman,, "Hurricane Dorian anxiety? South Floridians find ways to cope with stress," 30 Aug. 2019 Shares of Lions Gate Entertainment were dropping 7 percent in midday trading Friday as rumors circulated that Comcast will not renew a pact that makes Starz available to its cable-TV subscribers. Paul Bond, The Hollywood Reporter, "Lionsgate Shares Drop on Rumors Comcast Will Drop Starz," 30 Aug. 2019 But even though these rumors have been circulating for quite a while, The Masked Singer host Nick Cannon is just now sharing his thoughts on the matter. Kayla Keegan, Good Housekeeping, "'Masked Singer' Host Nick Cannon Just Spoke Out About Lori Harvey and Diddy's Relationship," 29 Aug. 2019 Lambeau now has an advanced system of tubes circulating anti-freeze to keep the surface pliant and playable amid the snow and ice of a Wisconsin winter., "A History of Football in 100 Objects," 28 Aug. 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

12 Sep 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).


formidable, illustrious, or eminent

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