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 These shifting relationships appear to have prompted the Jordanian monarchy to circumvent the White House in their bid to prevent annexation and appeal directly to Republican and Democratic US lawmakers. Jomana Karadsheh And Ghazi Balkiz, CNN, "Why West Bank annexation poses an existential threat to Jordan," 1 July 2020 The city is seeking to circumvent that blockade in the interim with an elaborate workaround built into business-tax reform measures headed for the November 2020 ballot. Dominic Fracassa,, "Appellate court sides with SF over Prop. C — affirming simple-majority for citizen ballot measures," 30 June 2020 And there are plenty of ways for researchers to circumvent the journal walls, as universities have demonstrated by canceling deals. Gregory Barber, Wired, "Universities Step Up the Fight for Open-Access Research," 16 June 2020 Cruz told Bloomberg that the Kremlin is trying to circumvent sanctions passed by Congress last year targeting businesses and individuals helping with the construction of Nord Stream 2, the controversial pipeline between Russia and Germany. Josh Siegel, Washington Examiner, "Daily on Energy: Trump pursues infrastructure boost via administrative action," 4 June 2020 But the Google-Apple protocol is built to prioritize a different, and probably incompatible, end: to circumvent the pitfalls of centralized surveillance that have preoccupied Americans since at least 9/11. Gideon Lewis-kraus, Wired, "How to Make Government Trustworthy Again," 18 June 2020 Microsoft can’t point customers to sign up on its website either as that would circumvent the Apple fee. Mark Gurman, Fortune, "Microsoft says antitrust regulators need to review app stores," 18 June 2020 However, travelers who are allowed in can circumvent the 14-day quarantine by getting tested at the airport at a cost of ISK15,000 ($111). Julia Buckley, Condé Nast Traveler, "How Countries in Europe are Reopening," 15 June 2020 Ohio Job and Family Services has tried to circumvent the issue of children in isolation by partnering with the Ohio Department of Education to provide guides for teachers who were dealing with kids online. Jessie Balmert,, "COVID-19 side effect: Child abuse, neglect reports drop due to kids' isolation," 15 June 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

4 Jul 2020

Cite this Entry

“Circumvent.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 12 Jul. 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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