- a prefix with the meaning “round about, around,” found in Latin loanwords, especially derivatives of verbs that had the general senses “to encompass or surround” (circumference; circumjacent; circumstance) or “to go around” by the means or in the manner specified by the verb (circumnavigate; circumscribe); on this basis forming adjectives in English with the meaning “surrounding” that named by the stem (circumocular; circumpolar).
Origin of circum-
- around; surrounding; on all sidescircumlocution; circumrotate
Word Origin and History for circum-
word-forming element meaning "around, all around, on all sides," from Latin circum- a common element in word-formation, from adverb and preposition circum "around, round about," literally "in a circle," probably accusative form of circus "ring" (see circus). In French, the element became circon-; Kitchin points out that con for cum is common even in classical Latin.
- Around; about:circumduction.
- A prefix meaning around, as in circumscribe, to draw a figure around another figure.