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

Newsletter Sign-up Some transport officials say shippers who circumvent dangerous-goods rules with false declarations should face criminal penalties. Costas Paris, WSJ, "Ship Operators Raise Alarms Over String of Vessel Fires," 24 Mar. 2019 Because of their positions and privilege, many are able to circumvent the educational conditions facing many poor Black and Brown families. Jenn M. Jackson, Teen Vogue, "Access to Education for Black Children Proves Difficult for Their Parents, Creating a Disadvantage," 13 Mar. 2019 Fantastic tales have been circulated of devices to circumvent the Prohibition forces. Popular Mechanics Editors, Popular Mechanics, "Rewind: What Guarding Uncle Sam's Borders Was Like in 1925," 11 Feb. 2019 The village’s school was constructed out of tires and mud to circumvent restrictions. Loveday Morris, Washington Post, "As Israeli bulldozers circle, a tiny village takes center stage in Palestinian struggle," 11 July 2018 To the dismay of civil liberties advocates, prosecutors have sometimes managed to circumvent statutes of limitations when DNA has been collected in a rape case but there is no match in the forensic DNA database. Ruth Padawer, New York Times, "Should Statutes of Limitations for Rape Be Abolished?," 19 June 2018 There remains the possibility that some counties may lack insurers, a problem the administration narrowly circumvented last year. Washington Post, "The Health 202: Half of Americans think Obamacare marketplaces are crumbling," 3 Apr. 2018 Yet the United States could face a challenge in crafting trade sanctions that circumvent allies and target China. Ana Swanson, New York Times, "Trump Trade Sanctions Aimed at China Could Ensnare Canada," 25 Feb. 2018 Companies in the wealthy city state in Southeast Asia, where North Korea has an embassy, have been previously implicated in its efforts to circumvent sanctions on banking, imports of oil and petroleum products and other business dealings. Matthew Pennington, The Seattle Times, "US sanctions Singapore companies over North Korea dealings," 25 Oct. 2018

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

16 Apr 2019

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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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Comments on circumvent

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