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

Keep scrolling for more

Other Words from circumvent

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

Synonyms & Antonyms for circumvent



Visit the Thesaurus for More 

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.
See More
Recent Examples on the Web Moreover, a truly motivated bad actor can often circumvent policies like these by using a different name or phone number. Karen Levy, Star Tribune, "The dating game: You had me at 'clean record'," 1 Apr. 2021 The ability to circumvent geopolitical conflicts, for example, or evade capital controls. Lawrence Wintermeyer, Forbes, "Bitcoin’s Energy Consumption Is A Highly Charged Debate – Who’s Right?," 10 Mar. 2021 Though these limitations are not insurmountable, there are few, if any, brain-computer interfaces in development that circumvent them. Anna Wexler, STAT, "A skeptic’s take on Neuralink and other consumer neurotech," 8 Apr. 2021 Like other bad actors, extremists involved in the insurrection worked to circumvent their systems by switching payment accounts and methods and hopping from one fundraising platform to the next. Brenna Smith, USA TODAY, "Insurrection fundraiser: Capitol riot extremists, Trump supporters continue to raise money for lawyer bills online," 28 Mar. 2021 Others say the Tatmadaw will likely try to circumvent the damage to the economy by exploiting the country’s abundant natural resources such as oil and gas, timber and jade. David Pierson, Los Angeles Times, "Idle businesses, uncollected taxes. How Myanmar is tumbling toward a ‘failed state’," 24 Mar. 2021 Other companies have looked at ways of building tracking abilities in apps that might circumvent the new rules. Chris Smith, BGR, "Apple reminds developers to ask users if they want to be tracked in iOS 14.5," 6 Apr. 2021 Unfortunately, the law doesn’t include trusts and partnerships, loopholes that the wealth defense industry will use to circumvent it., "The costs of a secretive ‘wealth defense industry’ of shell companies, offshore tax havens, and empty luxury condos," 1 Apr. 2021 As billions of cells in millions of humans replicate the virus, its genetic material constantly changes, sometimes in ways that circumvent our defenses and vaccines. Robert Klitzman, STAT, "How will people act after getting vaccinated? The complex psychology of safety," 30 Mar. 2021

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.

See More

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

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about circumvent

Time Traveler for circumvent

Time Traveler

The first known use of circumvent was in 1539

See more words from the same year

Listen to Our Podcast about circumvent

Statistics for circumvent

Last Updated

6 May 2021

Cite this Entry

“Circumvent.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 6 May. 2021.

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

Keep scrolling for more

More Definitions for circumvent



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.

Keep scrolling for more

Comments on circumvent

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


Test Your Vocabulary

Star Wars Words Quiz

  • cu jedi training
  • The bounty portion of bounty hunters (such as Boba Fett) comes from a Latin word meaning
Name That Thing

Test your visual vocabulary with our 10-question challenge!


Anagram puzzles meet word search.

Love words? Need even more definitions?

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