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

Definition of short-circuit

 (Entry 1 of 2)

transitive verb

1 : 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


Definition of short circuit (Entry 2 of 2)

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

Keep scrolling for more

Examples of short-circuit in a Sentence


The fire was caused by a short circuit.

Recent Examples on the Web: Noun

This can be caused by an overloaded circuit, short circuit or ground fault. azcentral, "How to avoid overloading your electrical system during the summer," 1 Aug. 2019 The disaster, caused by a short circuit in the electrical system and exacerbated by the oxygen-rich capsule that fueled the fire’s intensity, forced NASA to overhaul safety protocols. Ledyard King, USA TODAY, "Apollo 11 moon landing celebrated as pioneering milestone, but it was really about winning the space race," 17 July 2019 Most start in the engine or wheel areas and in a significant number, an electrical wire was the first item to have ignited, causing a short circuit. Gary Richards, The Mercury News, "What’s causing all these bus fires? Roadshow," 9 June 2019 So when a short circuit hit the grid, the suddenly imbalanced system didn’t adjust to it as planned and the grid collapsed. Washington Post, "Argentina: Faulty reprogramming caused 3-nation blackout," 3 July 2019 In at least five vehicles sold worldwide, the grommet has allowed moisture to seep into the battery, risking a short circuit or even a fire. Aarian Marshall, WIRED, "Audi Recalls Some E-Tron SUVs Over a Battery Issue," 10 June 2019 Wiring connected to the hybrid vehicle’s power control unit could brush up too closely to the cover and wear down over time, creating an electrical short circuit that heats up, potentially leading to fire. Shannon Liao, The Verge, "Toyota recalls a million Prius vehicles citing a fire risk," 6 Sep. 2018 The fire was attributed to a probable short circuit. Washington Post, "World Digest: Jan. 18, 2018," 18 Jan. 2018 Ignoring knots in cords can damage internal wiring and cause short circuits or complete signal loss, according to Sennheiser rep Jeff Touzeau. Rachel Z. Arndt, Popular Mechanics, "The Best Way to Wrap Your Headphones to Avoid Tangling," 30 Apr. 2013

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'short-circuit.' 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 short-circuit


1867, in the meaning defined at transitive sense 1


1854, in the meaning defined above

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about short-circuit

Statistics for short-circuit

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for short-circuit

The first known use of short-circuit was in 1854

See more words from the same year

Keep scrolling for more

More Definitions for short-circuit



English Language Learners Definition of short-circuit

 (Entry 1 of 2)

: to cause (something) to have a short circuit
: to stop working because of a short circuit
: to avoid doing (something)

short circuit


English Language Learners Definition of short circuit (Entry 2 of 2)

: the failure of electricity to flow properly in a circuit because the wires or connections in the circuit are damaged or not connected properly

short circuit


Kids Definition of short circuit

: an electrical connection made between points in an electric circuit between which current does not normally flow

Keep scrolling for more

More from Merriam-Webster on short-circuit

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with short-circuit

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for short-circuit

Spanish Central: Translation of short-circuit

Comments on short-circuit

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


a wrong name or inappropriate designation

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

Summer 2019 Words of the Day Quiz

  • a-bowl-of-peach-sorbet-with-cut-peaches-next-to-it
  • Which is a synonym of desideratum?
True or False

Test your knowledge - and maybe learn something along the way.


Test Your Knowledge - and learn some interesting things along the way.

Love words? Need even more definitions?

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