• synonyms


[sur-kuh m-fleks]
  1. consisting of, indicated by, or bearing the mark ^, ˘, or ~, placed over a vowel symbol in some languages to show that the vowel or the syllable containing it is pronounced in a certain way, as, in French, that the vowel so marked is of a certain quality and long, in Albanian, that the vowel is nasalized and stressed, or, in Classical Greek, that the syllable bears the word accent and is pronounced, according to the ancient grammarians, with a rise and fall in pitch.
  2. pronounced with or characterized by the quality, quantity, stress, or pitch indicated by such a mark.
  3. bending or winding around.
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  1. a circumflex mark or accent.
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verb (used with object)
  1. to bend around.
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Origin of circumflex

1555–65; < Latin circumflexus, equivalent to circum- circum- + flexus, past participle of flectere to bend; see flex1
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Examples from the Web for circumflex

Historical Examples

  • Exclamations often have a circumflex inflection, as "Really!"

    The Principles of English Versification

    Paull Franklin Baum

  • Though I did not understand him, yet I answered, That by circumflex.

  • But he wants to circumflex the word when it means the tree, thus, like .

  • This usage has been retained; the circumflex accent in its own right does not occur.

  • I can't tell how it is, sir, but that always seems to me to want a circumflex, being an adverb of sorts.

    Brother Copas

    Sir Arthur Thomas Quiller-Couch

British Dictionary definitions for circumflex


  1. a mark (^) placed over a vowel to show that it is pronounced with rising and falling pitch, as in ancient Greek, as a long vowel rather than a short one, as in French, or with some other different quality
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  1. (of certain nerves, arteries, or veins) bending or curving around
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Derived Formscircumflexion, noun

Word Origin

C16: from Latin circumflexus, from circumflectere to bend around, from circum- + flectere to bend
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 circumflex


1570s, from Latin (accentus) circumflexus, "bent around," past participle of circumflectere "to bend around," of a charioteer, "turn around" (from circum "around;" see circum-, + flectere "to bend;" see flexible); used as a loan-translation of Greek (prosodia) perispomenos (Dionysius of Halicarnassus), literally "drawn-around," with reference to shape.

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Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

circumflex in Medicine


  1. Curving or bending around.
  2. Bowed.
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The American Heritage® Stedman's Medical Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.