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

Other Words from circulate

circulatable \ ˈsər-​kyə-​ˌlā-​tə-​bəl How to pronounce circulate (audio) \ adjective
circulative \ ˈsər-​kyə-​ˌlā-​tiv How to pronounce circulate (audio) \ adjective
circulator \ ˈsər-​kyə-​ˌlā-​tər How to pronounce circulate (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 nonprofit publishes Prison Legal News and Criminal Legal News, which focus on inmates’ rights, court rulings and other criminal justice issues and circulate to 232 people in state correctional facilities. From Usa Today Network And Wire Reports, USA TODAY, 24 Nov. 2021 To Allissa Richardson at USC Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism, the images that circulate are the modern-day equivalent of the grotesque photographs that accompanied the lynchings of the Jim Crow era. Matt Williams, The Conversation, 24 Nov. 2021 Influenza is complicated because several different types and strains circulate. Maggie Fox, CNN, 19 Nov. 2021 Unvaccinated children and adults are keeping open the gate for the pathogen to circulate and mutate. Anne Saker, The Enquirer, 18 Nov. 2021 E Z'Lay said within Stream Queens, members have tried to circulate helpful information and warn one another of signs of possible swatters to look out for. NBC News, 16 Nov. 2021 Not taking medication will allow higher levels of HIV to circulate in the blood, Nelson says. Korin Miller,, 16 Nov. 2021 The secret is to place the meat loaves on a baking sheet, which lets the hot air circulate all around the meat. Tribune News Service, cleveland, 10 Nov. 2021 Providing an opportunity to train and hire unlikely candidates is a great way to get nonprofits and charities to circulate your job openings for you. Cj Eason, Forbes, 9 Nov. 2021

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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Dictionary Entries Near circulate

circular velocity


circulating assets

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Statistics for circulate

Last Updated

29 Nov 2021

Cite this Entry

“Circulate.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 3 Dec. 2021.

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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

More from Merriam-Webster on circulate

Nglish: Translation of circulate for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of circulate for Arabic Speakers


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