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

  • transitive v. To draw a line around; encircle.
  • transitive v. To limit narrowly; restrict.
  • transitive v. To determine the limits of; define. See Synonyms at limit.
  • transitive v. To enclose (a polygon or polyhedron) within a configuration of lines, curves, or surfaces so that every vertex of the enclosed object is incident on the enclosing configuration.
  • transitive v. To erect (such a configuration) around a polygon or polyhedron: circumscribe a circle around a square.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • v. To draw a line around; to encircle.
  • v. To limit narrowly; to restrict.
  • v. To draw the smallest circle or higher-dimensional sphere that has (a polyhedron, polygon, etc.) in its interior.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • transitive v. to write or engrave around.
  • transitive v. To inclose within a certain limit; to hem in; to surround; to bound; to confine; to restrain.
  • transitive v. To draw a line around so as to touch at certain points without cutting. See Inscribe, 5.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • To write or inscribe around.
  • To mark out certain bounds or limits for; inclose within certain limits; limit; bound; confine; restrain.
  • In geometry, to draw around so as to touch at as many points as possible.

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

  • v. restrict or confine,
  • v. to draw a geometric figure around another figure so that the two are in contact but do not intersect
  • v. draw a line around


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

Middle English circumscriben, from Latin circumscrībere : circum-, circum- + scrībere, to write; see skrībh- in Indo-European roots.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

From Latin circumscrībō, from circum ("around") + scrībō ("write").


  • Reveals that the CIA sought to "circumscribe" a policy of humane detainee treatment "so as to limit its application to the CIA."

    American Torture

  • One, they should circumscribe the role of the ombudsman, preferably to higher levels of government, and focus on increasing transparency.

    Getting a Grip on Indian Corruption

  • Climate control is seamlessly integrated and hardly noticeable as air diffusers circumscribe the house with fully integrated track lighting, eliminating unsightly air vents and making credible use of space.

    Ellsworth Residence by Michael P. Johnson Design Studio

  • If you insist that it fit with your own limited ability to circumscribe reality then you end up like JWs and other Gnostics.

    Blind Faith?

  • Empiricism merely served to circumscribe the debate, “boxing out” ethics proper.

    Think Progress » Fox Thinks Winter Chill Disproves Global Warming; Experts Disagree

  • And he used the leverage derived from favorable economic conditions to circumscribe political freedoms.

    The Return

  • A different picture emerges: the US has tended to circumscribe IP rights and subject them to more aggressive antitrust scrutiny than the EU.

    IPSC: final plenary

  • Something larger that truly is a "happening" at all, simply that, and no less remarkable for it — the mass effort to throw off the non-"happenings" that circumscribe all our lives to unambitious, repetitive cycles.

    Portland Vagabonder [Card #8: Strength] [WORK-IN-PROGRESS]

  • Indeed, the new state legislation has bestowed a cloak of legitimacy to local officials anxious to circumscribe any notion of teachers' rights.

    Stanley Kutler: Who Says It's Not About Destroying Unions?

  • The original article, which was intended as a parody of legislative attempts to circumscribe the teaching of evolution, was written by physicist Mark Boslough.

    Fool me once…


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  • Yep, the examples engine is in the shop for repairs. When it comes out, it'll drive like the General Lee.

    Which makes Tony Cooter, I think.

    March 2, 2010

  • John et al are tinkering under the hood of the examples engine. Expect lots of steam 'n' cussin' for the time being.

    March 2, 2010

  • Weird!

    March 2, 2010

  • The examples don't appear to involve the word "circumscribe". Perhaps I have misunderstood the purpose of that section?

    March 2, 2010

  • to draw a line around

    June 19, 2007

  • to draw a line around

    June 19, 2007