See more synonyms for short-circuit on
verb (used with object)
  1. Electricity.
    1. to make (an appliance, switch, etc.) inoperable by establishing a short circuit in.
    2. to carry (a current) as a short circuit.
  2. to bypass, impede, hinder, or frustrate: Bad weather short-circuited my vacation plans.
verb (used without object)
  1. Electricity. to form a short circuit or become inoperable due to a short circuit.

Origin of short-circuit

First recorded in 1870–75

short circuit

noun Electricity.
  1. an abnormal, usually unintentional condition of relatively low resistance between two points of different potential in a circuit, usually resulting in a flow of excess current.

Origin of short circuit

First recorded in 1875–80 Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Examples from the Web for short-circuit

Contemporary Examples of short-circuit

  • This sort of sustained engagement can short-circuit racially triggered instances of the confirmation bias, wrote Dobbin.

    The Daily Beast logo
    Office Parties Are Bad for Business

    Jesse Singal

    December 19, 2013

  • The post concluded, “Question: short memory or short-circuit?”

    The Daily Beast logo
    Tesla Goes to War

    Daniel Gross

    May 23, 2013

  • There are 45 million people who have still got to choose and I am not going to short-circuit that.

    The Daily Beast logo
    Gordon Brown's Disastrous Day

    Alex Massie

    April 29, 2010

Historical Examples of short-circuit

  • The induced currents in the rod amounted to a short-circuit of the field.


    William Fitzgerald Jenkins

  • Direct contact with a Throg mind appears to short-circuit them.

    Storm Over Warlock

    Andre Norton

  • And in an eon of lying they never have run up against a short-circuit like that.

    Letter of the Law

    Alan Edward Nourse

  • He may short-circuit some of them by means of Colonel House.

    Idling in Italy

    Joseph Collins

  • We cannot bluff Providence, or short-circuit things to our liking.

British Dictionary definitions for short-circuit

short circuit

  1. a faulty or accidental connection between two points of different potential in an electric circuit, bypassing the load and establishing a path of low resistance through which an excessive current can flow. It can cause damage to the components if the circuit is not protected by a fuse
verb short-circuit
  1. to develop or cause to develop a short circuit
  2. (tr) to bypass (a procedure, regulation, etc)
  3. (tr) to hinder or frustrate (plans, etc)
Sometimes (for senses 1, 2) shortened to: short
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 short-circuit

short circuit


also short-circuit, 1854, in electricity, from short (adj.) + circuit (n.). As a verb, introduce a shunt of low resistance," from 1867; intransitive sense from 1902; in the figurative sense is recorded by 1899. Related: short-circuited; short-circuiting.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

short-circuit in Science

short circuit

  1. An electrical path in a circuit that causes most of the current to flow around or away from some other path in the circuit. Accidental short circuits, especially between the high and low voltages of a power supply, can cause very strong current to flow, possibly damaging or overheating the circuit.
The American Heritage® Science Dictionary Copyright © 2011. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.

short-circuit in Culture

short circuit

An electrical circuit in which a path of very low resistance has been opened, usually accidentally. When the resistance drops, the electric current (see also current) in the circuit becomes very high and can cause damage to the circuit and start fires.

The New Dictionary of Cultural Literacy, Third Edition Copyright © 2005 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.