[ sur-kuhl ]
See synonyms for: circlecircledcircling on

  1. a closed plane curve consisting of all points at a given distance from a point within it called the center. Equation: x2 + y2 = r2.

  2. the portion of a plane bounded by such a curve.

  1. any circular or ringlike object, formation, or arrangement: a circle of dancers.

  2. a ring, circlet, or crown.

  3. the ring of a circus.

  4. a section of seats in a theater: dress circle.

  5. the area within which something acts, exerts influence, etc.; realm; sphere: A politician has a wide circle of influence.

  6. a series ending where it began, especially when perpetually repeated; cycle: the circle of the year.

  7. Logic. an argument ostensibly proving a conclusion but actually assuming the conclusion or its equivalent as a premise; vicious circle.

  8. a complete series forming a connected whole; cycle: the circle of the sciences.

  9. a number of persons bound by a common tie; coterie: a literary circle;a family circle.

  10. Government. an administrative division, especially of a province.

  11. Geography. a parallel of latitude.

  12. Astronomy.

  13. Surveying. a glass or metal disk mounted concentrically with the spindle of a theodolite or level and graduated so that the angle at which the alidade is set may be read.

  14. a sphere or orb: the circle of the earth.

  15. a ring of light in the sky; halo.

verb (used with object),cir·cled, cir·cling.
  1. to enclose in a circle; surround; encircle: Circle the correct answer on the exam paper.The enemy circled the hill.

  2. to move in a circle or circuit around; rotate or revolve around: He circled the house cautiously.

  1. to change course so as to pass by or avoid collision with; bypass; evade: The ship carefully circled the iceberg.

verb (used without object),cir·cled, cir·cling.
  1. to move in a circle or circuit: The plane circled for half an hour before landing.

  2. Movies, Television. to iris (usually followed by in or out).

Idioms about circle

  1. circle the wagons,

    • (in the early U.S. West) to form the wagons of a covered-wagon train into a circle for defensive purposes, as against Indian attack.

    • Slang. to prepare for an all-out, unaided defensive fight: The company has circled the wagons since its market share began to decline.

Origin of circle

First recorded before 1000; Middle English cercle (from Old French cercle), Old English circul, both from Latin circulus, equivalent to circ(us) “circle, circular course, orbit” + -ulus diminutive ending; see circus, -ule)

synonym study For circle

11. Circle, club, coterie, set, society are terms applied to restricted social groups. A circle may be a little group; in the plural it often suggests a whole section of society interested in one mode of life, occupation, etc.: a sewing circle; a language circle; in theatrical circles. Club implies an association with definite requirements for membership and fixed dues: an athletic club. Coterie suggests a little group closely and intimately associated because of congeniality: a literary coterie. Set refers to a number of persons of similar background, interests, etc., somewhat like a clique ( see ring1 ) but without disapproving connotations; however, it often implies wealth or interest in social activities: the country club set. A society is a group associated to further common interests of a cultural or practical kind: a Humane Society.

Other words for circle

Other words from circle

  • circler, noun
  • in·ter·cir·cle, verb (used with object), in·ter·cir·cled, in·ter·cir·cling.
  • re·cir·cle, verb, re·cir·cled, re·cir·cling.
  • un·cir·cled, adjective
  • un·der·cir·cle, verb (used with object), un·der·cir·cled, un·der·cir·cling.
  • un·der·cir·cle, noun Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2024

British Dictionary definitions for circle


/ (ˈsɜːkəl) /

  1. maths a closed plane curve every point of which is equidistant from a given fixed point, the centre. Equation: (x –h)² + (y –k= r ² where r is the radius and (h, k) are the coordinates of the centre; area πr²; circumference: 2π r

  2. the figure enclosed by such a curve

  1. theatre the section of seats above the main level of the auditorium, usually comprising the dress circle and the upper circle

  2. something formed or arranged in the shape of a circle

  3. a group of people sharing an interest, activity, upbringing, etc; set: golf circles; a family circle

  4. a domain or area of activity, interest, or influence

  5. a circuit

  6. a process or chain of events or parts that forms a connected whole; cycle

  7. a parallel of latitude: See also great circle, small circle

  8. the ring of a circus

  9. one of a number of Neolithic or Bronze Age rings of standing stones, such as Stonehenge, found in Europe and thought to be associated with some form of ritual or astronomical measurement

  10. hockey See striking circle

  11. a circular argument: See vicious circle (def. 2)

  12. come full circle to arrive back at one's starting point: See also vicious circle

  13. go round in circles or run round in circles to engage in energetic but fruitless activity

  1. to move in a circle (around): we circled the city by car

  2. (tr) to enclose in a circle; encircle

Origin of circle

C14: from Latin circulus a circular figure, from circus ring, circle

Derived forms of circle

  • circler, noun

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

Scientific definitions for circle


[ sûrkəl ]

  1. A closed curve whose points are all on the same plane and at the same distance from a fixed point (the center).

The American Heritage® Science Dictionary Copyright © 2011. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.

Other Idioms and Phrases with circle


see full circle; go around (in circles); run around (in circles); run rings (circles) around; vicious circle.

The American Heritage® Idioms Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company.