1 : to hem in
2 : to make a circuit around
3 : to manage to get around especially by ingenuity or stratagem
Even though a clear detour route has been marked for all to use, some motorists have sought their own creative ways to circumvent the road construction.
"But [non-disclosure agreements] are increasingly rare. Many states do not enforce them; there are easy ways for those with malicious intent to circumvent them; and pursuing legal action is more expensive than most startup companies can afford." -- From an article by Yasine Armstrong in the Albuquerque (New Mexico) Journal, December 19, 2011
Did You Know?
If you’ve ever felt as if someone were 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, as in our example sentences.
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Word Family Quiz
What relative of "circumvent" can mean "the use of an unnecessarily large number of words to express an idea"? The answer is ...