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circumscribe

[sur-kuhm-skrahyb, sur-kuhm-skrahyb]
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

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

Related Words

delineateencirclebaroutlinetrammelgirdleboundsurroundhamperrestrictdefinerestrainencloselimitenvironconfineencompassdemarcateprelimit

Examples from the Web for circumscribed

Contemporary Examples

Historical Examples

  • Besides this its power of flotation—suspension in the air—is circumscribed.

    Flying Machines

    W.J. Jackman and Thos. H. Russell

  • He could not work, and the walks he could take were circumscribed.

    Changing Winds

    St. John G. Ervine

  • Her life had been circumscribed, her experiences of a simple sort.

  • The limited opportunities of small states have circumscribed his information.

    Nuts and Nutcrackers

    Charles James Lever

  • It is not darkened and circumscribed by the dusty notions of the clubs.

    Waiting for Daylight

    Henry Major Tomlinson


British Dictionary definitions for circumscribed

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

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 circumscribed

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

circumscribed in Medicine

circumscribed

(sûrkəm-skrībd′)
adj.
  1. Bounded by a line; limited or confined.
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The American Heritage® Stedman's Medical Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.

circumscribed 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.