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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 circumspectly
Historical Examples
  • "If The Dutchan wins you get the money," replied the Trainer, circumspectly.

    Thoroughbreds W. A. Fraser
  • Akh, Sergyi Petrvitch, when I think of it, how circumspectly we women must behave!

    A Nobleman's Nest Ivan Turgenieff
  • Thus with seamen: he who goes the oftenest round Cape Horn goes the most circumspectly.

    Sea Stories Various
  • He started off circumspectly and noiselessly, listening and peering at every step.

    The War in the Air Herbert George Wells
  • Then he turned on his light, circumspectly, directing its rays to the ground at his feet.

  • I searched the lower floor, the verandas and the grounds, circumspectly.

    The Man in Lower Ten Mary Roberts Rinehart
  • At the sight of that we crawled as circumspectly as possible out of the twilight of the kitchen into the darkness of the scullery.

    The War of the Worlds H. G. Wells
  • Also the Council of Carthage did circumspectly provide, that no bishop should be called the highest bishop or chief priest.

  • He talked slowly, as it were circumspectly, keeping his prominent black eyes on his captain.

    End of the Tether Joseph Conrad
  • Yet she must go on naturally and easily, boldly but circumspectly, and play a daring game with two powerful men.

British Dictionary definitions for circumspectly


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 circumspectly



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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