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See also: Circle


English Wikipedia has an article on:
A circle
Multiple circles


Borrowed from Latin circulus. Replaced Middle English cercle, from Old French cercle, from the same Latin source.


  • enPR: sûrʹ-kəl, IPA(key): /ˈsɜɹkəl/
    • (UK) IPA(key): [ˈsɜː.kəɫ]
    • (US) IPA(key): [ˈsɝ.kəɫ]
    • (file)
    • (file)
  • Rhymes: -ɜː(ɹ)kəl
  • Hyphenation: cir‧cle


circle (plural circles)

  1. (geometry) A two-dimensional geometric figure, a line, consisting of the set of all those points in a plane that are equally distant from a given point (center).
    Synonyms: coil (not in mathematical use), ring (not in mathematical use), loop (not in mathematical use)
    The set of all points (x, y) such that (x-1)2 + y2 = r2 is a circle of radius r around the point (1, 0).
  2. A two-dimensional geometric figure, a disk, consisting of the set of all those points of a plane at a distance less than or equal to a fixed distance (radius) from a given point.
    Synonyms: disc, disk (in mathematical and general use), round (not in mathematical use; UK & Commonwealth only)
  3. Any thin three-dimensional equivalent of the geometric figures.
    Put on your dunce-cap and sit down on that circle.
  4. A curve that more or less forms part or all of a circle.
    Synonyms: arc, curve
    move in a circle
  5. Orbit.
    Synonym: orbit
  6. A specific group of persons; especially one who shares a common interest.
    Synonyms: bunch, gang, group
    inner circle
    circle of friends
    literary circle
    • (Can we date this quote?) Thomas Macaulay
      As his name gradually became known, the circle of his acquaintance widened.
    • 1892, Walter Besant, chapter III, in The Ivory Gate: A Novel, New York, N.Y.: Harper & Brothers, [], OCLC 16832619:
      At half-past nine on this Saturday evening, the parlour of the Salutation Inn, High Holborn, contained most of its customary visitors. [] In former days every tavern of repute kept such a room for its own select circle, a club, or society, of habitués, who met every evening, for a pipe and a cheerful glass.
    • 1907, Robert W[illiam] Chambers, chapter VI, in The Younger Set, New York, N.Y.: D. Appleton & Company, OCLC 24962326:
      “I don't mean all of your friends—only a small proportion—which, however, connects your circle with that deadly, idle, brainless bunch—the insolent chatterers at the opera, the gorged dowagers, [], the jewelled animals whose moral code is the code of the barnyard—!"
    • 1922, Margery Williams, The Velveteen Rabbit
      The Rabbit could not claim to be a model of anything, for he didn’t know that real rabbits existed; he thought they were all stuffed with sawdust like himself, and he understood that sawdust was quite out-of-date and should never be mentioned in modern circles.
  7. (cricket) A line comprising two semicircles of 30 yards radius centred on the wickets joined by straight lines parallel to the pitch used to enforce field restrictions in a one-day match.
  8. (Wicca) A ritual circle that is cast three times deosil and closes three times widdershins either in the air with a wand or literally with stones or other items used for worship.
  9. (South Africa) A traffic circle or roundabout.
    • 2011, Charles E. Webb, Downfall and Freedom, page 120:
      He arrived at the lakefront and drove around the circle where the amusement park and beach used to be when he was a kid []
  10. (obsolete) Compass; circuit; enclosure.
  11. (astronomy) An instrument of observation, whose graduated limb consists of an entire circle. When fixed to a wall in an observatory, it is called a mural circle; when mounted with a telescope on an axis and in Y's, in the plane of the meridian, a meridian or transit circle; when involving the principle of reflection, like the sextant, a reflecting circle; and when that of repeating an angle several times continuously along the graduated limb, a repeating circle.
  12. A series ending where it begins, and repeating itself.
  13. (logic) A form of argument in which two or more unproved statements are used to prove each other; inconclusive reasoning.
    • (Can we date this quote?) Joseph Glanvill
      That heavy bodies descend by gravity; and, again, that gravity is a quality whereby a heavy body descends, is an impertinent circle and teaches nothing.
  14. Indirect form of words; circumlocution.
    • (Can we date this quote?) John Fletcher
      Has he given the lie, / In circle, or oblique, or semicircle.
  15. A territorial division or district.
    The ten Circles of the Holy Roman Empire were those principalities or provinces which had seats in the German Diet.
  16. (in the plural) A bagginess of the skin below the eyes from lack of sleep.
    After working all night, she had circles under her eyes.

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The translations below need to be checked and inserted above into the appropriate translation tables, removing any numbers. Numbers do not necessarily match those in definitions. See instructions at Wiktionary:Entry layout#Translations.


circle (third-person singular simple present circles, present participle circling, simple past and past participle circled)

  1. (transitive) To travel around along a curved path.
    • Alexander Pope
      Other planets circle other suns.
  2. (transitive) To surround.
    • Dampier
      Their heads are circled with a short turban.
    • Coleridge
      So he lies, circled with evil.
  3. (transitive) To place or mark a circle around.
    Circle the jobs that you are interested in applying for.
  4. (intransitive) To travel in circles.
    Vultures circled overhead.

Derived terms[edit]


The translations below need to be checked and inserted above into the appropriate translation tables, removing any numbers. Numbers do not necessarily match those in definitions. See instructions at Wiktionary:Entry layout#Translations.