cir·​cum·​spect | \ˈsər-kᵊm-ˌspekt \

Definition of circumspect 

: careful to consider all circumstances and possible consequences : prudent diplomacy required a circumspect response They are circumspect in all their business dealings.

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Other Words from circumspect

circumspection \ ˌsər-​kᵊm-​ˈspek-​shən \ noun
circumspectly \ ˈsər-​kᵊm-​ˌspek(t)-​lē \ adverb

Choose the Right Synonym for circumspect

cautious, circumspect, wary, chary mean prudently watchful and discreet in the face of danger or risk. cautious implies the exercise of forethought usually prompted by fear of danger. a cautious driver circumspect suggests less fear and stresses the surveying of all possible consequences before acting or deciding. circumspect in his business dealings wary emphasizes suspiciousness and alertness in watching for danger and cunning in escaping it. keeps a wary eye on the competition chary implies a cautious reluctance to give, act, or speak freely. chary of signing papers without having read them first

Examples of circumspect in a Sentence

she has a reputation for being quiet and circumspect in investigating charges of child abuse

Recent Examples on the Web

As the trade dispute festers, Chinese business leaders have been circumspect, saying almost nothing about it publicly for fear of angering Beijing. Steven Lee Myers, The Seattle Times, "Trump’s trade spat is rattling China’s leaders and economy," 14 Aug. 2018 England has been much more circumspect, with 12 crosses and 8 shots. Rory Smith, New York Times, "Croatia Digs Deeper, Burying England’s World Cup Dreams," 12 July 2018 But at the White House, President Donald Trump’s initial response was more circumspect, with his spokeswoman pointedly avoiding naming Russia as the likely perpetrator of the attack. Washington Post, "Allies, others question Trump’s response to spy’s poisoning," 15 Mar. 2018 Referees, perhaps wise to his constant shenanigans, have become more circumspect in awarding him free-kicks, to the point where several legitimate fouls against Mexico went unpunished. Martin Rogers, USA TODAY, "Brazil is desperately trying to coddle Neymar, whose talent outweighs dramatic antics," 5 July 2018 But she was sternly advised to be more circumspect in the future or her job would be at stake. Rachael Herron, Vox, "As a 911 dispatcher, I had to treat every call seriously — even the racist ones," 30 May 2018 The irony for Trump is that his presidency is the very reason that voters in places like West Virginia and Alabama are so circumspect about warnings like the ones Trump has offered. Chris Stirewalt, Fox News, "It's Don v. Don in West Virginia," 7 May 2018 But while the president may achieve some version of success toward his objectives, businesses should be circumspect. Brian Finlay, Fortune, "Businesses Are Salivating Over an Open North Korea. Should They Be?," 20 June 2018 Instead of killing off Philip, Elizabeth, Paige, and/or Henry Jennings as some kind of punishment for all the dastardly espionage, the writers took a more circumspect approach. Matthew Gilbert,, "The ever-improving art of the perfect ending," 31 May 2018

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

15th century, in the meaning defined above

History and Etymology for circumspect

Middle English, from Middle French or Latin; Middle French circonspect, from Latin circumspectus, from past participle of circumspicere to look around, be cautious, from circum- + specere to look — more at spy

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Last Updated

17 Nov 2018

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The first known use of circumspect was in the 15th century

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English Language Learners Definition of circumspect

: thinking carefully about possible risks before doing or saying something

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Comments on circumspect

What made you want to look up circumspect? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


by force of circumstances

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