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 Audio of his words has been circulating on social media since Willard's death. Dana Hunsinger Benbow, Indianapolis Star, "Beloved Knightstown football coach Don Willard dies; he crafted his own 'Hoosiers' story," 14 Nov. 2019 The person’s name has also been circulating in articles from right-wing media outlets this week. oregonlive, "Portland radio host Lars Larson names suspected Donald Trump/Ukraine whistleblower on Fox News," 8 Nov. 2019 Details of the breach have been circulating online since at least May 2018. Dan Goodin, Ars Technica, "Hackers steal secret crypto keys for NordVPN. Here’s what we know so far," 21 Oct. 2019 Candidates can start circulating nomination papers Dec. 1. Mary Spicuzza, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, "In a reversal, Milwaukee County Executive Chris Abele announces he will not seek re-election," 16 Oct. 2019 Rumors started circulating around the fire station in Byron, Georgia, within a year after the medical treatments began. Washington Post, "AP analysis: Wide gaps in legal protection of LGBT workers," 15 Oct. 2019 Presidential primary candidates who want to get on the Colorado ballot can start circulating petitions Nov. 4. Cindi Andrews, The Denver Post, "Let me do the worrying about 2020, and the politics behind DeGette’s union endorsement," 19 Sep. 2019 When the posters about the professors started circulating on Wesleyan’s campus in November 2016, the #MeToo movement was slowly gaining momentum across the nation. Kathleen Mcwilliams,, "In lawsuit against Wesleyan, professor accuses school of failing to protect him from 'slanderous and vicious personal attacks’ labeling him a sex offender," 29 Aug. 2019 On Sunday, messages started circulating about an indefinite 24-hour curfew. Sanna Wani, Time, "I Was in Kashmir When India Seized Control. This Is What I Saw," 7 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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Time Traveler for circulate

Time Traveler

The first known use of circulate was in 1603

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Statistics for circulate

Last Updated

5 Dec 2019

Cite this Entry

“Circulate.” The Dictionary, Merriam-Webster Inc., Accessed 5 December 2019.

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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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