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

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Antonyms for circumspect

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

Related Words for circumspect

prudent, wary, scrupulous, meticulous, discriminating, judicious, cagey, vigilant, careful, considerate, attentive, calculating, canny, chary, deliberate, gingerly, guarded, heedful, observant, politic

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


  1. cautious, prudent, or discreet
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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.

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Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper