Thesaurus

circumscribe

verb

Synonyms & Antonyms of circumscribe

1 to set bounds or an upper limit for
  • circumscribed his enthusiasm so as not to make the losing side feel worse

Synonyms for circumscribe

Words Related to circumscribe

Near Antonyms for circumscribe

Antonyms for circumscribe

2 to mark the limits of
  • Lake Michigan circumscribes the city of Chicago on the east

Synonyms for circumscribe

Words Related to circumscribe

See the Dictionary Definition 

Frequently Asked Questions About circumscribe

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

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about circumscribe

Time Traveler for circumscribe

Time Traveler

The first known use of circumscribe was in the 15th century

See more words from the same century

Listen to Our Podcast about circumscribe

Cite this Entry

“Circumscribe.” Merriam-Webster.com Thesaurus, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/thesaurus/circumscribe. Accessed 30 Sep. 2020.

Keep scrolling for more

More from Merriam-Webster on circumscribe

Dictionary: Definition of circumscribe

Nglish: Translation of circumscribe for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of circumscribe for Arabic Speakers

Comments on circumscribe

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

WORD OF THE DAY

Test Your Vocabulary

Challenging Vocabulary Quiz Returns!

  • stylized drawing of woman pole vaulting across gap to get trophy
  • Which is a synonym of fuliginous?
Spell It

Can you spell these 10 commonly misspelled words?

TAKE THE QUIZ
Syn City

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

TAKE THE QUIZ
Love words? Need even more definitions?

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