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as in to define
to mark the limits of Lake Michigan circumscribes the city of Chicago on the east

Synonyms & Similar Words

Synonym Chooser

How is the word circumscribe different from other verbs like it?

Some common synonyms of circumscribe are confine, limit, and restrict. While all these words mean "to set bounds for," circumscribe stresses a restriction on all sides and by clearly defined boundaries.

the work of the investigating committee was carefully circumscribed

When can confine be used instead of circumscribe?

Although the words confine and circumscribe have much in common, confine suggests severe restraint and a resulting cramping, fettering, or hampering.

our choices were confined by finances

When is limit a more appropriate choice than circumscribe?

While in some cases nearly identical to circumscribe, limit implies setting a point or line (as in time, space, speed, or degree) beyond which something cannot or is not permitted to go.

visits are limited to 30 minutes

When might restrict be a better fit than circumscribe?

The words restrict and circumscribe can be used in similar contexts, but restrict suggests a narrowing or tightening or restraining within or as if within an encircling boundary.

laws intended to restrict the freedom of the press

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Cite this Entry

“Circumscribe.” Merriam-Webster.com Thesaurus, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/thesaurus/circumscribe. Accessed 30 May. 2024.

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