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  1. the outer boundary, especially of a circular area; perimeter: the circumference of a circle.
  2. the length of such a boundary: a one-mile circumference.
  3. the area within a bounding line: the vast circumference of his mind.
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Origin of circumference

1350–1400; Middle English < Late Latin circumferentia, equivalent to circum- circum- + fer- (stem of ferre to carry) + -entia -ence
Can be confusedcircumference diameter radius tangent


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Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

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British Dictionary definitions for circumference


  1. the boundary of a specific area or geometric figure, esp of a circle
  2. the length of a closed geometric curve, esp of a circle. The circumference of a circle is equal to the diameter multiplied by π
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Derived Formscircumferential (səˌkʌmfəˈrɛnʃəl), adjectivecircumferentially, adverb

Word Origin

C14: from Old French circonference, from Latin circumferre to carry around, from circum- + ferre to bear
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 circumference


late 14c., from Latin circumferentia, neuter plural of circumferens, present participle of circumferre "to lead around, take around, carry around," from circum "around" (see circum-) + ferre "to carry" (see infer). A loan-translation of Greek periphereia "periphery, the line round a circular body," literally "a carrying round" (see periphery). Related: Circumferential.

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Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

circumference in Science


  1. The boundary line of a circle.
  2. The boundary line of a figure, area, or object.
  3. The length of such a boundary. The circumference of a circle is computed by multiplying the diameter by pi.
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The American Heritage® Science Dictionary Copyright © 2011. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.

circumference in Culture



The measure of the distance around a circle.

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The New Dictionary of Cultural Literacy, Third Edition Copyright © 2005 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.