[ sur-kuhm-skrahyb, sur-kuhm-skrahyb ]
See synonyms for: circumscribecircumscribedcircumscribing on

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.

  1. to mark off; define; delimit: to circumscribe the area of a science.

  2. Geometry.

    • to draw (a figure) around another figure so as to touch as many points as possible.

    • (of a figure) to enclose (another figure) in this manner.

Origin of circumscribe

1350–1400; Middle English <Latin circumscrībere, equivalent to circum-circum- + scrībere to write

Other words for circumscribe

Other words from circumscribe

  • cir·cum·scrib·a·ble, adjective
  • cir·cum·scrib·er, noun
  • non·cir·cum·scribed, adjective
  • un·cir·cum·scrib·a·ble, adjective
  • un·cir·cum·scribed, adjective

Words Nearby circumscribe Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2024

How to use circumscribe in a sentence

British Dictionary definitions for circumscribe


/ (ˌsɜːkəmˈskraɪb, ˈsɜːkəmˌskraɪb) /

  1. to restrict within limits

  2. to mark or set the bounds of

  1. to draw a geometric construction around (another construction) so that the two are in contact but do not intersect: Compare inscribe (def. 4)

  2. to draw a line round

Origin of circumscribe

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

Derived forms of circumscribe

  • circumscribable, adjective
  • circumscriber, noun

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

Scientific definitions for 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.

The American Heritage® Science Dictionary Copyright © 2011. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.