1 : to manage to get around especially by ingenuity or stratagem
2 a : to hem in
b : to make a circuit around
Did You Know?
If you've ever felt as if someone was 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.
A couple of clever students were able to circumvent the security protocols on the school's network and gain access to the database storing their grades.
"… [P]artygoers stood patiently on another queue for the elevator. Jim Belushi—one of the 29 actors featured in W's 'Best Performances' issue—circumvented the elevator line and went for the steps." — Jasmin Rosemberg, Variety, 5 Jan. 2018
Test Your Vocabulary with M-W Quizzes
Word Family Quiz
Fill in the blanks to complete a noun derived from Latin venire that means "origin" or "source": p _ _ v _ na _ _ e.VIEW THE ANSWER
Theme music by Joshua Stamper ©2006 New Jerusalem Music/ASCAP