cir·​cum·​nav·​i·​gate | \ ˌsər-kəm-ˈna-və-ˌgāt How to pronounce circumnavigate (audio) \
circumnavigated; circumnavigating; circumnavigates

Definition of circumnavigate

transitive verb

: to go completely around especially by water circumnavigate the earth also : to go around instead of through : bypass circumnavigate a congested area

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Other Words from circumnavigate

circumnavigation \ ˌsər-​kəm-​ˌna-​və-​ˈgā-​shən How to pronounce circumnavigation (audio) \ noun
circumnavigator \ ˌsər-​kəm-​ˈna-​və-​ˌgā-​tər How to pronounce circumnavigator (audio) \ noun

Examples of circumnavigate in a Sentence

The ship circumnavigated the world. the first ship to circumnavigate the globe
Recent Examples on the Web On their most grueling tour, the Beatles circumnavigate the globe in a week. Washington Post, "Style Invitational Week 1391: ‘Covid’-free zone!," 2 July 2020 Forget 80 days⁠—Konyukhov used jet streams to circumnavigate the globe in just 11 days. David Grossman, Popular Mechanics, "Why the Return of the Airship Makes More Sense Than Ever," 5 Sep. 2019 In 2016, when Tsai Ing-wen, an opponent of reunification with China, was first elected Taiwan’s president, China began sending bombers to circumnavigate the island as a show of force. The Economist, "Strait and harrow With the world distracted, China intimidates Taiwan," 8 Apr. 2020 One ship ultimately returned to Spain after circumnavigating the world. Erin Blakemore, National Geographic, "Magellan was first to sail around the world, right? Think again.," 19 Sep. 2019 In Snowpiercer, all of Earth’s remaining inhabitants circumnavigate the globe in a luxury train broken up into strata: The poorest residents live in the back, and the wealthiest are up front, closest to the engine. Hannah Giorgis, The Atlantic, "Netflix’s Demented Cannibal-Prison Movie Is Actually Timely," 4 Apr. 2020 Twice these avid boaters have completed the Great Loop, a roughly 6,000-mile journey by water that circumnavigates the eastern half of the U.S. and part of Canada. Beth Decarbo, WSJ, "For These Intrepid Boaters, Life Is but a Great Loop," 26 Mar. 2020 Polynesian people had been navigating this way for centuries, well before Magellan circumnavigated the globe in the 1500s with the aid of a compass. Jeremy Engle, New York Times, "Lesson of the Day: ‘These Images Show the Sun’s Surface in Greater Detail Than Ever Before’," 3 Feb. 2020 The Magellanic penguin is named for the Portuguese explorer Ferdinand Magellan, whose crew spotted it while sailing around the tip of South America during their historic, if controversial, attempt to circumnavigate the world in 1519. National Geographic, "Magellanic penguin," 8 Feb. 2020

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'circumnavigate.' 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 circumnavigate

1634, in the meaning defined above

History and Etymology for circumnavigate

Latin circumnavigatus, past participle of circumnavigare to sail around, from circum- + navigare to navigate

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Time Traveler for circumnavigate

Time Traveler

The first known use of circumnavigate was in 1634

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Statistics for circumnavigate

Last Updated

14 Jul 2020

Cite this Entry

“Circumnavigate.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 8 Aug. 2020.

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More Definitions for circumnavigate


How to pronounce circumnavigate (audio)

English Language Learners Definition of circumnavigate

formal : to travel all the way around (something) in a ship, airplane, etc.


cir·​cum·​nav·​i·​gate | \ ˌsər-kəm-ˈna-və-ˌgāt How to pronounce circumnavigate (audio) \
circumnavigated; circumnavigating

Kids Definition of circumnavigate

: to go completely around (as the earth) especially by water

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