Definitions

from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

  • intransitive v. To move in or flow through a circle or circuit: blood circulating through the body.
  • intransitive v. To move around, as from person to person or place to place: a guest circulating at a party.
  • intransitive v. To move about or flow freely, as air.
  • intransitive v. To spread widely among persons or places; disseminate: Gossip tends to circulate quickly.
  • transitive v. To cause to move about or be distributed: Please circulate these fliers.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • v. to move in circles or through a circuit
  • v. to cause (a person or thing) to move in circles or through a circuit
  • v. to move from person to person, as at a party
  • v. to spread or disseminate
  • v. to become widely known

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • intransitive v. To move in a circle or circuitously; to move round and return to the same point.
  • intransitive v. To pass from place to place, from person to person, or from hand to hand; to be diffused
  • transitive v. To cause to pass from place to place, or from person to person; to spread.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • To travel round; make a circuit of.
  • To cause to pass from place to place or from person to person; spread; disseminate: as, to circulate, a report; to circulate bills of credit.
  • To move in a circle or circuit; move or pass through a circuit back to the starting-point: as, the blood circulates in the body; the bottle circulated about the table.
  • To be diffused or distributed; pass from place to place, from person to person, or from hand to hand: as, air circulates in a building; money circulates in the country; the report circulated throughout the city.
  • n. A circulating decimal.

from WordNet 3.0 Copyright 2006 by Princeton University. All rights reserved.

  • v. move in circles
  • v. become widely known and passed on
  • v. move through a space, circuit or system, returning to the starting point
  • v. cause to move around
  • v. move around freely
  • v. cause to move in a circuit or system
  • v. cause to become widely known
  • v. cause be distributed

Etymologies

From Middle English circulat, continuously distilled, from Latin circulātus, past participle of circulāre, to make circular, from circulus, circle; see circle.
(American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition)
From Latin circulatus, past participle of circulare ("make circular, encircle"), a later collateral form of circulari ("form a circle (of men) around one's self"), from circulus ("a circle") (Wiktionary)

Examples

  • While Johnson was less than serious about wanting to bring Sergio Aragonés' barbarian to theaters, he told MTV he'd be proud to have his name circulate in connection with the character.

    Rian Johnson And ‘Groo The Wanderer’: A Match Made In Some Alternate Future?

  • Over the last few weeks a new theme has started to circulate, which is, in a sense, much more potent and in any case more interesting.

    Four Months Later

  • Leaving aside Fevola for the moment, can we not also drag into this sorry mess all of the other players who helped "circulate" the photo and who didn't say a peep about it?

    Wait a second, who is the villain in this piece?

  • He says "circulate," without saying anything about the audience for that circulation, as Greg points out.

    Obama Camp Hits Hillary Over Drudge Story

  • Judging by the tone at DKos and elsewhere, Obama volunteers are awfully quick to voice and "circulate" insults about Clinton.

    Obama Camp Hits Hillary Over Drudge Story

  • Note how the WMO standard requires the air temperature observation to be measured OUTSIDE the forest and where the air can freely circulate, meaning where the tropospheric air mass can freely circulate without obstruction by any form of vegetation.

    Central Park: Will the real Slim Shady please stand up? « Climate Audit

  • And I write a lot about that in the book, and I write also about our trade craft training, which is -- in a lot of ways, it's training you how to have social skills, because you're learning to kind of circulate the diplomatic cocktail circuit and use that as a venue to find potential targets.

    CNN Transcript Jan 24, 2005

  • Come now: certainly we can agree that articles from the Western press do not "circulate" in East Berlin — not among normal East Germans at any rate.

    The Man Who Came in from the Cold

  • The law says you must pay five per cent. duty on entering the country, or _at the discretion of the authorities_, bona-fide tourists will be given a temporary permit to "circulate" free.

    The Automobilist Abroad

  • The _Noche-buena_ or Good Night, preceding Christmas, finds the shops gay with sweets and fancy goods suitable for holiday wear, but not with the pretty gifts such as circulate from home to home in northern countries, for here gifts are not generally exchanged.

    Yule-Tide in Many Lands

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