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[sur-kuh m-spekt] /ˈsɜr kəmˌspɛkt/
watchful and discreet; cautious; prudent:
circumspect behavior.
circumspect ambition.
Origin of circumspect
late Middle English
1375-1425; late Middle English < Latin circumspectus (past participle of circumspicere to look around), equivalent to circum- circum- + spec(ere) to look + -tus past participle suffix
Related forms
circumspectly, adverb
circumspectness, noun
noncircumspect, adjective
noncircumspectly, adverb
noncircumspectness, noun
overcircumspect, adjective
uncircumspect, adjective
uncircumspectly, adverb
uncircumspectness, noun
1. careful, vigilant, guarded.
1. careless, indiscreet. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018.
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Examples from the Web for circumspect
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • One must be so circumspect—so much upon one's guard with all the world.

  • Even the most wary, circumspect, and suspicious, might thus be overcome.

    Imogen William Godwin
  • But she was dutiful to him, and he was circumspect in his behaviour before her.

    Captain Blood Rafael Sabatini
  • And yet it may be repeated that Lieutenant Russell was the most guarded and circumspect of men.

    A Waif of the Mountains Edward S. Ellis
  • There never was a man who did such rash things in so circumspect a manner.

    Lord George Bentinck Benjamin Disraeli
British Dictionary definitions for circumspect


cautious, prudent, or discreet
Derived Forms
circumspection, noun
circumspective, adjective
circumspectly, adverb
Word Origin
C15: from Latin circumspectus, from circum- + specere to look
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 circumspect

early 15c., from Latin circumspectus "deliberate, guarded, well-considered," past participle of circumspicere "look around, take heed," from circum- "around" (see circum-) + specere "to look" (see scope (n.1)). Related: Circumspectly; circumspectness.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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