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 smaller the eye, the faster the winds can circulate around the center. Jeff Berardelli, CBS News, "Hurricane Delta bears striking resemblance to Wilma, the Atlantic's most intense hurricane on record," 8 Oct. 2020 Therefore, a wall fan with a minimum CFM of 135 will effectively circulate air in a room whose volume is 1,350 feet (15 x 10 x 9 feet). Sian Babish,, "The best wall fan," 8 Oct. 2020 Goods will always need to circulate around the world, making cargo shipping an industry where even small changes can have a tangible and immediate impact. Caroline Delbert, Popular Mechanics, "This Wind-Powered Super Sailboat Will Carry 7,000 Cars Across the Atlantic," 7 Oct. 2020 The pathogen is more entrenched and most respiratory viruses circulate primarily in the winter months. Michelle Fay Cortez,, "Warning Signs Flash Ahead of Covid’s Second U.S. Winter," 28 Sep. 2020 Dozens of rhinoviruses may circulate at one time in a community. Gregory Barber, Wired, "Colds Nearly Vanished Under Lockdown. Now They’re Coming Back," 21 Sep. 2020 Photos of Reynolds at events without a mask frequently circulate on social media. David Pitt, Star Tribune, "Iowa governor won't budge on masks even as virus deaths rise," 15 Sep. 2020 For example, footage of the killing of Ahmaud Arbery, who was shot while jogging in February, didn’t circulate publicly until more than two months after Arbery’s death. Molly Longman,, "Sharing Images Of Police Brutality Isn’t Allyship. It’s Traumatizing," 31 Aug. 2020 Paul’s name began trending on Twitter after news of the medical incident began to circulate. Karen Pallarito,, "Ron Paul Appears to Suffer Stroke During Live Stream Video," 25 Sep. 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

11 Oct 2020

Cite this Entry

“Circulate.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 23 Oct. 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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