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circumscribe

[sur-kuhm-skrahyb, sur-kuhm-skrahyb]
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verb (used with object), cir·cum·scribed, cir·cum·scrib·ing.
  1. to draw a line around; encircle: to circumscribe a city on a map.
  2. to enclose within bounds; limit or confine, especially narrowly: Her social activities are circumscribed by school regulations.
  3. to mark off; define; delimit: to circumscribe the area of a science.
  4. Geometry.
    1. to draw (a figure) around another figure so as to touch as many points as possible.
    2. (of a figure) to enclose (another figure) in this manner.
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Origin of circumscribe

1350–1400; Middle English < Latin circumscrībere, equivalent to circum- circum- + scrībere to write
Related formscir·cum·scrib·a·ble, adjectivecir·cum·scrib·er, nounnon·cir·cum·scribed, adjectiveun·cir·cum·scrib·a·ble, adjectiveun·cir·cum·scribed, adjective

Synonyms for circumscribe

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

Related Words for circumscribe

delineate, encircle, bar, outline, trammel, girdle, bound, surround, hamper, restrict, define, restrain, enclose, limit, environ, confine, encompass, demarcate, prelimit

Examples from the Web for circumscribe

Historical Examples of circumscribe

  • The first step to be taken must be to endeavour to circumscribe their limits.

    Beric the Briton

    G. A. Henty

  • A new spirit has now gone abroad which no walls can bound or circumscribe.

    Revisiting the Earth

    James Langdon Hill

  • I know what you mean, but I do not intend to allow any duty to circumscribe my art.

  • It was his professed object to restrain Russia, and to circumscribe her limits.

  • To circumscribe their power a new army of Mamelukes was formed, called the Borgis.

    Caesar's Column

    Ignatius Donnelly


British Dictionary definitions for circumscribe

circumscribe

verb (tr)
  1. to restrict within limits
  2. to mark or set the bounds of
  3. to draw a geometric construction around (another construction) so that the two are in contact but do not intersectCompare inscribe (def. 4)
  4. to draw a line round
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Derived Formscircumscribable, adjectivecircumscriber, noun

Word Origin for circumscribe

C15: from Latin circumscrībere, from circum- + scrībere to write
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 circumscribe

v.

late 14c., from Latin circumscribere "to make a circle around, encircle, draw a line around; limit, restrain, confine, set the boundaries of," from circum- "around" (see circum-) + scribere "write" (see script (n.)). Related: Circumscribed; circumscribing.

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Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

circumscribe in Science

circumscribe

[sûrkəm-skrīb′]
  1. To draw a figure around another figure so as to touch as many points as possible. A circle that is circumscribed around a triangle touches it at each of the triangle's three vertices.
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The American Heritage® Science Dictionary Copyright © 2011. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.