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

transitive verb

: to manage to get around especially by ingenuity or stratagem
the setup circumvented the red tapeLynne McTaggart
circumvent a problem
: to hem in
Circumvented by the enemy, he had to surrender.
: to make a circuit around
the river circumvented
circumvention noun

Did you know?

The Circular History of Circumvent

If you've ever felt as if someone was 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.

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 These vehicles are legal entities created by Chinese cities to circumvent borrowing restrictions imposed by the central government in Beijing. Laura He, CNN, 20 Sep. 2023 However, it has been circumvented numerous times by lawmakers who arrive at the Capitol to vote from the airport or the gym by voting from the edge of the Senate floor, with one foot still in the cloakroom. Samantha-Jo Roth, Washington Examiner, 18 Sep. 2023 This can usually be tied to underpaid and overworked staff, negligent leadership and lack of adequate funding—all factors the Grant family work to circumvent. Jasmine Browley, Essence, 28 Aug. 2023 The access would have to be very low threshold for patients, in order to circumvent the illicit market. Peter Grinspoon, Time, 23 Aug. 2023 The city of Memphis circumvented the Heritage Protection Act by transferring possession of a monument to a nonprofit, which promptly dismantled it in 2017. Abhinav S. Krishnan, USA TODAY, 18 Aug. 2023 Seng says new, advanced solar panels may be able to circumvent this problem. Adithi Ramakrishnan, Dallas News, 16 Aug. 2023 The complaint includes accusations of multiple other instances where Bronson and other subordinates attempted to circumvent Demboski in order to pursue actions that violated municipal code. Zachariah Hughes, Anchorage Daily News, 7 Sep. 2023 The films, inspired by how morpho butterflies create their vivid blue color with reflective scales, circumvent this with nanostructures that reflect light to produce color without heating up. Cameron Pugh, The Christian Science Monitor, 6 Sep. 2023 See More

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'circumvent.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History


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

First Known Use

1539, in the meaning defined at sense 2a

Time Traveler
The first known use of circumvent was in 1539

Dictionary Entries Near circumvent

Cite this Entry

“Circumvent.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 3 Oct. 2023.

Kids Definition


cir·​cum·​vent ˌsər-kəm-ˈvent How to pronounce circumvent (audio)
: to go around : bypass entry 2
: to get the better of or avoid the force or effect of by cleverness
circumvented the rules
circumvention noun

More from Merriam-Webster on circumvent

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