cir·​cum·​vent | \ ˌsər-kəm-ˈvent How to pronounce circumvent (audio) \
circumvented; circumventing; circumvents

Definition of circumvent

transitive verb

1 : to manage to get around especially by ingenuity or stratagem the setup circumvented the red tape— Lynne McTaggart circumvent a problem
2a : to hem in Circumvented by the enemy, he had to surrender.
b : to make a circuit around the river circumvented

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Other Words from circumvent

circumvention \ ˌsər-​kəm-​ˈven(t)-​shən How to pronounce circumvention (audio) \ noun

Synonyms & Antonyms for circumvent



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The Circular History of Circumvent

If you’ve ever felt as if someone were circling around the rules, you have an idea of the origins of "circumvent" - it derives from the Latin circum, meaning "circle," and "ventus," the past participle of the Latin verb venire, meaning "to come." The earliest uses of "circumvent" referred to a tactic of hunting or warfare in which the quarry or enemy was encircled and captured. Today, however, "circumvent" more often suggests avoidance than entrapment; it typically means to "get around" someone or something, as in our example sentences.

Examples of circumvent in a Sentence

Los Angeles was the beachhead for the sushi invasion, attracting many Japanese chefs eager to make their fortunes and to circumvent the grueling 10-year apprenticeship required in their homeland. — Jay McInerney, New York Times Book Review, 10 June 2007 … Rondon and Lyra paddled to the right side, where they found a channel that circumvented the worst part of the rapids. — Candice Millard, The River of Doubt, 2005 His appreciation of this finer side of life is circumvented by a cynicism that he tells me is common to Eastern Europeans. — Lynne Tillman, Motion Sickness, 1991 The thirty-six-hour workweek established by the garment-industry code was circumvented by having the workers punch out at five P.M., leave by the back door (their usual entrance), then return by the front door and work until eleven P.M. without punching the clock. — Melissa Hield, Speaking For Ourselves, (1977) 1984 We circumvented the problem by using a different program. He found a way to circumvent the law.
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Recent Examples on the Web But in so many ways, so many teams, executives, managers, coaches, players, trainers and clubhouse workers found a way to circumvent the problems and make the best of a dangerous game of tag with a deadly virus. Paul Hoynes, cleveland, "2020 grades for Cleveland Indians' managers, coaches, executives: Another good run, quick exit," 15 Oct. 2020 The ruling late Thursday night by U.S. District Judge Lucy Koh of the Northern District of California follows a tense week in which the government appeared to try to circumvent a preliminary injunction against ending the count early. Washington Post, "In a new ruling, judge says census count must continue through October," 2 Oct. 2020 Apple removed the game last month for violating its policies after Epic introduced a way for users to circumvent Apple's in-app payment system. Brian Fung And Shannon Liao, CNN, "Apple's in a war for the future of the App Store. Here's what's at stake," 25 Sep. 2020 There was bipartisan outrage on the Hill following a successful effort by the administration to circumvent Congress and push through an $8 billion arms sale to the kingdom and other Middle East countries. Jordan Fabian,, "Trump, Biden Use 9/11 Visits to Check Off Vital Political Box," 11 Sep. 2020 The Insurrection Act allows the president to circumvent the need for a governor’s request and send troops out to quell the riots. Zachary Halaschak, Washington Examiner, "Barr surveys protest outside White House ahead of Trump speech and DC curfew," 1 June 2020 As part of their behind-the-scenes effort, White House officials also tried to circumvent the C.D.C. in a search for alternate data showing that the pandemic was weakening and posed little danger to children. Mark Mazzetti, New York Times, "Read the Presentation the White House Sent to the C.D.C. on Reopening Schools," 28 Sep. 2020 Apple's contracts prohibit trying to circumvent the rules. Brian Fung And Shannon Liao, CNN, "Apple's in a war for the future of the App Store. Here's what's at stake," 25 Sep. 2020 But the report focused on how Nuru allegedly used one such nonprofit, the San Francisco Parks Alliance, to circumvent the city’s purchasing controls and then direct funding to vendors of his choice. Trisha Thadani,, "City Hall scandal: Nuru used ‘unethical’ practice to solicit funds for S.F. department, controller says," 25 Sep. 2020

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

1539, in the meaning defined at sense 2a

History and Etymology for circumvent

Latin circumventus, past participle of circumvenire, from circum- + venire to come — more at come

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Time Traveler for circumvent

Time Traveler

The first known use of circumvent was in 1539

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Last Updated

20 Oct 2020

Cite this Entry

“Circumvent.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 23 Oct. 2020.

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More Definitions for circumvent


How to pronounce circumvent (audio)

English Language Learners Definition of circumvent

formal : to avoid being stopped by (something, such as a law or rule) : to get around (something) in a clever and sometimes dishonest way


cir·​cum·​vent | \ ˌsər-kəm-ˈvent How to pronounce circumvent (audio) \
circumvented; circumventing

Kids Definition of circumvent

: to avoid the force or effect of by cleverness They tried to circumvent the rules.

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