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.

Keep scrolling for more

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

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 Amita Baviskar, a sociologist and professor at Ashoka University in India, is more circumspect about the prospect of the farmer protests growing into a mass movement critical of the government. Naomi Xu Elegant, Fortune, "How two of India’s richest men became the target of farmer boycotts," 23 Jan. 2021 Abraham Lincoln, who’d been more circumspect on the issue, was seen as a safer choice. Dorothy Wickenden, The New Yorker, "The Pre-Civil War Fight Against White Supremacy," 18 Jan. 2021 But some Federal Reserve officials were more circumspect, suggesting on Thursday that government spending might be muted by political reality. New York Times, "With Democrats in Control, Biden Moves to Advance Agenda," 7 Jan. 2021 House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., embraced the idea of larger payments but Republicans were more circumspect. John Fritze, USA TODAY, "Trump reverses on coronavirus stimulus deal, signs package he called a 'disgrace'," 28 Dec. 2020 But the agency has been circumspect about granting other digital assets a pass to skirt federal oversight. Paul Vigna, WSJ, "Ripple to Face SEC Suit Over XRP Cryptocurrency," 22 Dec. 2020 Wiseman has given hundreds of interviews over the years while remaining fairly circumspect about the meaning of his work. New York Times, "What if the Great American Novelist Doesn’t Write Novels?," 15 Dec. 2020 All of these exceptions are questions of specific fact, and courts are very circumspect when a landlord attempts to assert that tenants' activities rise to the level required by the order. Kelly Klein, Star Tribune, "With college virtual, are students stuck with lease?," 11 Dec. 2020 The Trump administration and the government of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu remained circumspect in their silence through the weekend. Ishaan Tharoor, Washington Post, "The assassination of top Iranian nuclear scientist raises the stakes for Biden," 30 Nov. 2020

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.

See More

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

Keep scrolling for more

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

Statistics for circumspect

Last Updated

2 Feb 2021

Cite this Entry

“Circumspect.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 3 Mar. 2021.

Style: MLA
MLA Chicago APA Merriam-Webster

Keep scrolling for more

More Definitions for circumspect



English Language Learners Definition of circumspect

formal : thinking carefully about possible risks before doing or saying something

More from Merriam-Webster on circumspect

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for circumspect

Nglish: Translation of circumspect for Spanish Speakers

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).


Test Your Vocabulary

February 2021 Words of the Day Quiz

  • squirrel in winter
  • Which is a synonym of perdure?
Name That Thing

Test your visual vocabulary with our 10-question challenge!

 AlphaBear 2

Spell words. Make bears.

Love words? Need even more definitions?

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