circumvent

verb
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

Synonyms

beat, bypass, dodge, get around, shortcut, sidestep, skirt

Antonyms

comply (with), follow, keep, obey, observe

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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

In an attempt to circumvent that constraint, the Rev. Jarrett Maupin, an activist who is working with the family, submitted a formal citizen's petition asking the council to direct the city manager to fire the police officers. Jessica Boehm, azcentral, "Activists demand Phoenix City Council fire officers from viral encounter with family. Can they?," 20 June 2019 As such, some organizations on Facebook use coy in-jokes and other far-right dog whistling tactics to circumvent Facebook’s algorithmic filters. Nick Statt, The Verge, "Hundreds of active and former police officers are part of extremist Facebook groups," 14 June 2019 To circumvent this arduous process, activists have invented the one-person picket: a person stands with a sign, and the police generally leave the protesters alone. Masha Gessen, The New Yorker, "The Arrest of a Russian Investigative Journalist Prompts Outrage and Solidarity," 10 June 2019 Prosecutors argued Warren was giving them information on routes and how to circumvent Border Patrol checkpoints. John Moore/getty Images, San Diego Union-Tribune, "Trial revives debate: When does border humanitarian aid become a crime?," 9 June 2019 What remains unclear is how Husel could circumvent apparent rules that would require him to order medications through an in-house pharmacy team and then convince a nurse to administer the drug. NBC News, "Ohio doctor charged with 25 counts of murder, accused of prescribing excessive doses of painkillers," 5 June 2019 The new law also directs the state Public Disclosure Commission, which oversees campaign-finance issues, to develop rules to make sure PACs can’t circumvent disclosure requirements. Joseph O’sullivan, The Seattle Times, "‘Gray money’: New Washington law to lift the cloak on PAC funders," 19 May 2019 But the united justices went further, asserting clear authority to bind states to their decisions, which could not be circumvented with competing legislation. Bill Mears, Fox News, "The 'forgotten' Supreme Court decision and its impact on our politics," 9 Sep. 2018 Merkley said the North Koreans had continued developing their missile program and were finding ways to circumvent economic sanctions strangling its economy. Deb Riechmann, The Seattle Times, "Trump wants to keep NKorea sanctions, won’t rule out summit," 12 Apr. 2019

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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Statistics for circumvent

Last Updated

25 Jun 2019

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for circumvent

The first known use of circumvent was in 1539

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More Definitions for circumvent

circumvent

verb

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

circumvent

verb
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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having a desire to acquire more things

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