[ sur-kyuh-leyt ]
See synonyms for: circulatecirculatedcirculatingcirculatory on

verb (used without object),cir·cu·lat·ed, cir·cu·lat·ing.
  1. to move in a circle or circuit; move or pass through a circuit back to the starting point: Blood circulates throughout the body.

  2. to pass from place to place, from person to person, etc.: She circulated among her guests.

  1. to be distributed or sold, especially over a wide area.

  2. Library Science. (of books and other materials) to be available for borrowing by patrons of a library for a specified period of time.

verb (used with object),cir·cu·lat·ed, cir·cu·lat·ing.
  1. to cause to pass from place to place, person to person, etc.; disseminate; distribute: to circulate a rumor.

  2. Library Science. to lend (books and other materials) to patrons of a library for a specified period of time.

Origin of circulate

1425–75 for earlier senses; 1665–75 for current senses; late Middle English <Latin circulātus (past participle of circulārī to gather round one, Medieval Latin circulāre to encircle), equivalent to circul(us) circle + -ātus-ate1

Other words for circulate

Other words from circulate

  • cir·cu·lat·a·ble, adjective
  • cir·cu·la·tive [sur-kyuh-ley-tiv, -luh-tiv], /ˈsɜr kyəˌleɪ tɪv, -lə tɪv/, adjective
  • cir·cu·la·to·ry [sur-kyuh-luh-tawr-ee, -tohr-ee], /ˈsɜr kyə ləˌtɔr i, -ˌtoʊr i/, adjective
  • in·ter·cir·cu·late, verb, in·ter·cir·cu·lat·ed, in·ter·cir·cu·lat·ing.
  • non·cir·cu·lat·ing, adjective
  • non·cir·cu·la·to·ry, adjective
  • pre·cir·cu·late, verb, pre·cir·cu·lat·ed, pre·cir·cu·lat·ing.
  • re·cir·cu·late, verb, re·cir·cu·lat·ed, re·cir·cu·lat·ing.
  • un·cir·cu·lat·ed, adjective
  • un·cir·cu·lat·ing, adjective
  • un·cir·cu·la·tive, adjective
  • well-cir·cu·lat·ed, adjective

Words Nearby circulate Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2023

How to use circulate in a sentence

British Dictionary definitions for circulate


/ (ˈsɜːkjʊˌleɪt) /

  1. to send, go, or pass from place to place or person to person: don't circulate the news

  2. to distribute or be distributed over a wide area

  1. to move or cause to move through a circuit, system, etc, returning to the starting point: blood circulates through the body

  2. to move in a circle: the earth circulates around the sun

Origin of circulate

C15: from Latin circulārī to assemble in a circle, from circulus circle

Derived forms of circulate

  • circulative, adjective
  • circulator, noun
  • circulatory, adjective

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 circulate


[ sûrkyə-lāt′ ]

  1. To move in or flow through a circle or a circuit. Blood circulates through the body as it flows out from the heart to the tissues and back again.

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