[sur-kuh m-skrip-shuh n]
See more synonyms for circumscription on
  1. an act or instance of circumscribing.
  2. circumscribed state; limitation.
  3. anything that circumscribes, surrounds, or encloses; boundary.
  4. periphery; outline.
  5. a circumscribed area.
  6. a circular inscription on a coin, seal, etc.
  7. limitation of a meaning; definition.

Origin of circumscription

1375–1425; late Middle English < Latin circumscrīptiōn- (stem of circumscrīptiō), equivalent to circumscrīpt(us) (past participle of circumscrībere to circumscribe; see circum-, script) + -iōn- -ion
Related formscir·cum·scrip·tive, adjectivecir·cum·scrip·tive·ly, adverbnon·cir·cum·scrip·tive, adjective Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Related Words for circumscription

limitation, fetter, constraint, restraint, trammel, confinement, curb, limit, check, curbing

Examples from the Web for circumscription

Historical Examples of circumscription

British Dictionary definitions for circumscription


  1. the act of circumscribing or the state of being circumscribed
  2. something that limits or encloses
  3. a circumscribed space
  4. an inscription around a coin or medal
Derived Formscircumscriptive, adjectivecircumscriptively, adverb
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 circumscription

1530s, from Latin circumscriptionem (nominative circumscriptio) "an encircling; fact of being held to set limits," noun of action from past participle stem of circumscribere (see circumscribe). Figurative sense of "setting limits of meaning" is earliest in English.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper