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[shawrt-sur-kit] /ˌʃɔrtˈsɜr kɪt/
verb (used with object)
  1. to make (an appliance, switch, etc.) inoperable by establishing a short circuit in.
  2. to carry (a current) as a short circuit.
to bypass, impede, hinder, or frustrate:
Bad weather short-circuited my vacation plans.
verb (used without object)
Electricity. to form a short circuit or become inoperable due to a short circuit.
Origin of short-circuit
First recorded in 1870-75

short circuit

noun, Electricity.
an abnormal, usually unintentional condition of relatively low resistance between two points of different potential in a circuit, usually resulting in a flow of excess current.
First recorded in 1875-80 Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018.
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Examples from the Web for short-circuit
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • The induced currents in the rod amounted to a short-circuit of the field.

    Invasion William Fitzgerald Jenkins
  • Direct contact with a Throg mind appears to short-circuit them.

    Storm Over Warlock Andre Norton
  • And in an eon of lying they never have run up against a short-circuit like that.

    Letter of the Law Alan Edward Nourse
  • He may short-circuit some of them by means of Colonel House.

    Idling in Italy Joseph Collins
  • We cannot bluff Providence, or short-circuit things to our liking.

  • There had been a short-circuit on the copper mains in the station.

    Edison, His Life and Inventions Frank Lewis Dyer and Thomas Commerford Martin
  • Or do they perhaps utterly supplant and replace them and short-circuit their effects?

British Dictionary definitions for short-circuit

short circuit

a faulty or accidental connection between two points of different potential in an electric circuit, bypassing the load and establishing a path of low resistance through which an excessive current can flow. It can cause damage to the components if the circuit is not protected by a fuse
to develop or cause to develop a short circuit
(transitive) to bypass (a procedure, regulation, etc)
(transitive) to hinder or frustrate (plans, etc)
Sometimes (for senses 1, 2) shortened to short
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 short-circuit

short circuit


also short-circuit, 1854, in electricity, from short (adj.) + circuit (n.). As a verb, introduce a shunt of low resistance," from 1867; intransitive sense from 1902; in the figurative sense is recorded by 1899. Related: short-circuited; short-circuiting.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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short-circuit in Science
short circuit
An electrical path in a circuit that causes most of the current to flow around or away from some other path in the circuit. Accidental short circuits, especially between the high and low voltages of a power supply, can cause very strong current to flow, possibly damaging or overheating the circuit.
The American Heritage® Science Dictionary
Copyright © 2002. Published by Houghton Mifflin. All rights reserved.
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short-circuit in Culture

short circuit definition

An electrical circuit in which a path of very low resistance has been opened, usually accidentally. When the resistance drops, the electric current in the circuit becomes very high and can cause damage to the circuit and start fires.

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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