Definition of circumscribe
- his role was carefully circumscribed
- a study of plant species in a circumscribed area
- circumscribed the misspelled words
- fields circumscribed by tall trees
- a circle circumscribing a square
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The circle is circumscribed by a square.
circumscribed his enthusiasm so as not to make the losing side feel worse
These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'circumscribe.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.
Circumscribe has a lot of relatives in English. Its Latin predecessor circumscribere (which roughly translates as "to draw a circle around") derives from circum-, meaning "circle," and scribere, meaning "to write or draw." Among the many descendants of circum- are circuit, circumcise, circumference, circumnavigate, circumspect, circumstance, and circumvent. Scribere gave us such words as scribe and scribble, as well as ascribe, describe, and transcribe, among others. Circumscribe was first recorded in the 14th century; it was originally spelled circumscrive, but the "circumscribe" spelling had also appeared by the end of the century.
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