watchful and discreet; cautious; prudent: circumspect behavior.
well-considered: circumspect ambition.

Origin of circumspect

1375–1425; late Middle English < Latin circumspectus (past participle of circumspicere to look around), equivalent to circum- circum- + spec(ere) to look + -tus past participle suffix
Related formscir·cum·spect·ly, adverbcir·cum·spect·ness, nounnon·cir·cum·spect, adjectivenon·cir·cum·spect·ly, adverbnon·cir·cum·spect·ness, nouno·ver·cir·cum·spect, adjectiveun·cir·cum·spect, adjectiveun·cir·cum·spect·ly, adverbun·cir·cum·spect·ness, noun

Synonyms for circumspect

Antonyms for circumspect Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for circumspect

Contemporary Examples of circumspect

Historical Examples of circumspect

  • One must be so circumspect—so much upon one's guard with all the world.

  • Even the most wary, circumspect, and suspicious, might thus be overcome.


    William Godwin

  • But she was dutiful to him, and he was circumspect in his behaviour before her.

    Captain Blood

    Rafael Sabatini

  • And yet it may be repeated that Lieutenant Russell was the most guarded and circumspect of men.

  • There never was a man who did such rash things in so circumspect a manner.

    Lord George Bentinck

    Benjamin Disraeli

British Dictionary definitions for circumspect



cautious, prudent, or discreet
Derived Formscircumspection, nouncircumspective, adjectivecircumspectly, adverb

Word Origin for circumspect

C15: from Latin circumspectus, from circum- + specere to look
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 circumspect

early 15c., from Latin circumspectus "deliberate, guarded, well-considered," past participle of circumspicere "look around, take heed," from circum- "around" (see circum-) + specere "to look" (see scope (n.1)). Related: Circumspectly; circumspectness.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper