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[ser-kuhm-fer-uh ns] /sərˈkʌm fər əns/
the outer boundary, especially of a circular area; perimeter:
the circumference of a circle.
the length of such a boundary:
a one-mile circumference.
the area within a bounding line:
the vast circumference of his mind.
Origin of circumference
1350-1400; Middle English < Late Latin circumferentia, equivalent to circum- circum- + fer- (stem of ferre to carry) + -entia -ence
Can be confused
circumference, diameter, radius, tangent.
1. periphery, circuit. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018.
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Examples from the Web for circumference
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • Draw a diagram representing the circumference line and pitch in feet.

    Flying Machines W.J. Jackman and Thos. H. Russell
  • Melville is an island of more than a mile in circumference, with low, rocky shores.

    Ned Myers James Fenimore Cooper
  • From points near the circumference these circles or curves are very small.

  • Draw a few straight lines, from the centre to the circumference of a circle.

  • The diameter is then multiplied by 3.1416 to obtain the circumference.

    Boys' Book of Model Boats Raymond Francis Yates
  • There is no outside, no inclosing wall, no circumference to us.

    Essays, First Series Ralph Waldo Emerson
  • The soul of the world was diffused everywhere from the centre to the circumference.

    Timaeus Plato
  • The visible creation is the terminus or the circumference of the invisible world.

    Nature Ralph Waldo Emerson
British Dictionary definitions for circumference


the boundary of a specific area or geometric figure, esp of a circle
the length of a closed geometric curve, esp of a circle. The circumference of a circle is equal to the diameter multiplied by π
Derived Forms
circumferential (səˌkʌmfəˈrɛnʃəl) adjective
circumferentially, adverb
Word Origin
C14: from Old French circonference, from Latin circumferre to carry around, from circum- + ferre to bear
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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Word Origin and History for circumference

late 14c., from Latin circumferentia, neuter plural of circumferens, present participle of circumferre "to lead around, take around, carry around," from circum "around" (see circum-) + ferre "to carry" (see infer). A loan-translation of Greek periphereia "periphery, the line round a circular body," literally "a carrying round" (see periphery). Related: Circumferential.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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circumference in Science
  1. The boundary line of a circle.

  2. The boundary line of a figure, area, or object.

  3. The length of such a boundary. The circumference of a circle is computed by multiplying the diameter by pi.

The American Heritage® Science Dictionary
Copyright © 2002. Published by Houghton Mifflin. All rights reserved.
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circumference in Culture
circumference [(suhr-kum-fuhr-uhns)]

The measure of the distance around a circle.

The New Dictionary of Cultural Literacy, Third Edition
Copyright © 2005 by Houghton Mifflin Company.
Published by Houghton Mifflin Company. All rights reserved.
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