cir·​cum·​spect | \ ˈsər-kəm-ˌspekt How to pronounce circumspect (audio) \

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.

Other Words from circumspect

circumspection \ ˌsər-​kəm-​ˈspek-​shən How to pronounce circumspect (audio) \ noun
circumspectly \ ˈsər-​kəm-​ˌspek(t)-​lē How to pronounce circumspect (audio) \ 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

Did you know?

Circumspect, cautious, wary, and chary all imply looking before you leap, but each puts a unique spin on being careful in the face of risk or danger. Circumspect, which descends from Latin circum- ("around") and specere ("to look"), implies the surveying of all possible consequences before acting or deciding (as in "he is circumspect in business dealings"). Cautious suggests fear of danger and the exercise of forethought that it prompts (as in "a cautious driver"). Wary emphasizes suspiciousness and alertness in sensing danger and cunning in escaping it (as in "keep a wary eye on the competition"). Chary implies a cautious reluctance to give, act, or speak freely (as in "she is chary of signing papers without reading 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 On the subject of Ticketmaster’s fees, Skoufis is more circumspect. Jonathan Cohen, SPIN, 30 Aug. 2022 Henry, who has coached players like Amari Cooper, Odell Beckham and Jarvis Landry across his career, is more circumspect. Zach Osterman, The Indianapolis Star, 24 Aug. 2022 Kurtzman, who previously worked on J.J. Abrams’ Trek movie, was more circumspect. Aaron Couch, The Hollywood Reporter, 23 July 2022 In conversation, Kravchenko is measured, circumspect, unsparing in her self-analysis, with flashes of wry humor. New York Times, 5 Aug. 2022 General López-Calleja was a circumspect person who had become gradually more visible in official events as the armed forces businesses came to play a growing role in Cuba’s economy. Andrea RodrÍguez,, 1 July 2022 Desire takes shape in circumspect flashes of moving bodies performing for one another. Jack Parlett, The New Yorker, 15 Apr. 2022 The Ukrainians had previously been somewhat circumspect about their involvement in a series of behind-enemy-lines attacks in Crimea, including one assault that the Ukrainians said included the work of partisans and destroyed fighter jets., 19 Aug. 2022 It’s a sweet but oddly circumspect film, ruled by a friction between warring demands: the allure of wistful memories and the rigor of complex appraisal. Lovia Gyarkye, The Hollywood Reporter, 22 May 2022 See More

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.

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

Learn More About circumspect

Time Traveler for circumspect

Time Traveler

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

See more words from the same century

Listen to Our Podcast About circumspect

Dictionary Entries Near circumspect




See More Nearby Entries 

Statistics for circumspect

Last Updated

18 Sep 2022

Cite this Entry

“Circumspect.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 4 Oct. 2022.

Style: MLA
MLACheck Mark Icon ChicagoCheck Mark Icon APACheck Mark Icon Merriam-WebsterCheck Mark Icon

More from Merriam-Webster on circumspect

Nglish: Translation of circumspect for Spanish Speakers


Test Your Vocabulary

Words Named After People

  • name tags
  • Namesake of the leotard, Jules Léotard had what profession?
Name That Thing

Test your visual vocabulary with our 10-question challenge!

Universal Daily Crossword

A daily challenge for crossword fanatics.

Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!