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short-cir·​cuit ˈshȯrt-ˈsər-kət How to pronounce short-circuit (audio)
short-circuited; short-circuiting; short-circuits

transitive verb

: to apply a short circuit to or establish a short circuit in

intransitive verb

: to become shunted by a short circuit
The radio short-circuited.

short circuit

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: a connection of comparatively low resistance accidentally or intentionally made between points on a circuit between which the resistance is normally much greater

Examples of short-circuit in a Sentence

Noun The fire was caused by a short circuit.
Recent Examples on the Web
In this YouTube video, an octopus successfully navigates her way through a series of traps and mazes to reach a feast of raw shrimp: Two aquariums observed octopuses who learned to turn off the lights by spraying water at light bulbs to short-circuit the power, according to Scientific American. Clare Mulroy, USA TODAY, 4 Apr. 2024 The researchers have struggled with dendrites – spiky metallic formations that can cause a battery to short-circuit. Cameron Pugh, The Christian Science Monitor, 25 Mar. 2024 Many feared that war on inflation would cause unemployment to surge and short-circuit the economic recovery from Covid-19. Matt Egan, CNN, 20 Mar. 2024 Electrical storms can short-circuit the power grid, as occurred in Quebec in 1989 when millions of people were left without power in the cold of late winter. Kim Beil, Smithsonian Magazine, 1 Mar. 2024 This effectively short-circuits brain electrical activity and compromises function. Ziyad Al-Aly, CBS News, 28 Feb. 2024 After positive financial reports from America’s two big Navy shipbuilders, U.S. Navy Secretary Carlos Del Toro short-circuited the celebratory mood at West 2024, the Navy’s premier West Coast business convention, skewering key industry stakeholders. Craig Hooper, Forbes, 20 Feb. 2024 The homeowner plugged it into an outlet in their kitchen, but the battery short-circuited and exploded. Julia Gomez, USA TODAY, 31 Jan. 2024 The Arena model short-circuits this step, thereby encouraging risk-taking. Paula Stephan, STAT, 2 Feb. 2024
That can result in a short circuit, preventing the front passenger’s airbag from deploying properly in the event of a crash. William Gavin, Quartz, 27 Mar. 2024 The car company said that water may leak into the transmission control harness, which can cause a short circuit and unexpectedly shift the transmission from park to neutral. USA TODAY, 25 Mar. 2024 The electronic switch may short circuit, resulting in the tailgate unlatching. Chad Murphy, The Enquirer, 4 Mar. 2024 Essentially, this accelerates an aging effect called time-dependent dielectric breakdown, which results in short circuits across the gate dielectric that kill the device. IEEE Spectrum, 28 Feb. 2024 Most likely in these cases, there was an electrical short circuit, Harmon said. Linda Carroll, NBC News, 13 Nov. 2023 Salt may also connect to cravings via a short circuit in the gut microbiome. Christopher Damman, The Conversation, 12 Mar. 2024 The short circuit from the balloon can also cause power lines to fall to the ground. Bridget Fogarty, Journal Sentinel, 23 Feb. 2024 Toyota in December recalled 1.12 million vehicles worldwide because a short circuit in a sensor could cause air bags not to deploy as designed. Reuters, NBC News, 6 Feb. 2024

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

Word History

First Known Use


1867, in the meaning defined at transitive sense 1


1854, in the meaning defined above

Time Traveler
The first known use of short-circuit was in 1854

Dictionary Entries Near short-circuit



short circuit

Cite this Entry

“Short-circuit.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 18 Apr. 2024.

Kids Definition


1 of 2 verb
: to make a short circuit in or have a short circuit

short circuit

2 of 2 noun
: an electrical connection made between points in an electric circuit between which current does not normally flow
Last Updated: - Updated example sentences
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