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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.
  3. to be distributed or sold, especially over a wide area.
  4. 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
Related formscir·cu·lat·a·ble, adjectivecir·cu·la·tive [sur-kyuh-ley-tiv, -luh-tiv] /ˈsɜr kyəˌleɪ tɪv, -lə tɪv/, adjectivecir·cu·la·to·ry [sur-kyuh-luh-tawr-ee, -tohr-ee] /ˈsɜr kyə ləˌtɔr i, -ˌtoʊr i/, adjectivein·ter·cir·cu·late, verb, in·ter·cir·cu·lat·ed, in·ter·cir·cu·lat·ing.non·cir·cu·lat·ing, adjectivenon·cir·cu·la·to·ry, adjectivepre·cir·cu·late, verb, pre·cir·cu·lat·ed, pre·cir·cu·lat··cir·cu·late, verb, re·cir·cu·lat·ed, re·cir·cu·lat·ing.un·cir·cu·lat·ed, adjectiveun·cir·cu·lat·ing, adjectiveun·cir·cu·la·tive, adjectivewell-cir·cu·lat·ed, adjective

Synonyms for circulate

See more synonyms for on Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Related Words for circulatory

moving, rotating, circling, current, fluid, ambient, circulatory, diffusive

Examples from the Web for circulatory

Contemporary Examples of circulatory

Historical Examples of circulatory

British Dictionary definitions for circulatory


  1. to send, go, or pass from place to place or person to persondon't circulate the news
  2. to distribute or be distributed over a wide area
  3. to move or cause to move through a circuit, system, etc, returning to the starting pointblood circulates through the body
  4. to move in a circlethe earth circulates around the sun
Derived Formscirculative, adjectivecirculator, nouncirculatory, adjective

Word Origin for circulate

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

Word Origin and History for circulatory

c.1600, of blood, from French circulatoire or directly from Latin circulatorius, from circulator, agent noun from circulare (see circulate). Circulatory system is recorded from 1862.



1540s (late 15c. as a past participle adjective), as a chemical term for alternating vaporization and condensation, from Latin circulatus, past participle of circulare "to form a circle," from circulus (see circle (n.)). Meaning "to move around, revolve" is from 1670s; of blood, from 1650s; of persons, "to mingle in a social gathering," from 1863. Sense of "to pass about freely" is from 1660s; of newspapers from 1885. Related: Circulated; circulating.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

circulatory in Medicine


  1. Relating to circulation.
  2. Relating to the circulatory system.
The American Heritage® Stedman's Medical Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.

circulatory in Science


  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.