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[sur-kyuh-ley-shuh n] /ˌsɜr kyəˈleɪ ʃən/
an act or instance of circulating, moving in a circle or circuit, or flowing.
the continuous movement of blood through the heart and blood vessels, which is maintained chiefly by the action of the heart, and by which nutrients, oxygen, and internal secretions are carried to and wastes are carried from the body tissues.
any similar circuit, passage, or flow, as of the sap in plants or air currents in a room.
the transmission or passage of anything from place to place or person to person:
the circulation of a rumor; the circulation of money.
the distribution of copies of a periodical among readers.
the number of copies of each issue of a newspaper, magazine, etc., distributed.
coins, notes, bills, etc., in use as money; currency.
Library Science.
  1. the lending of library books and other materials.
  2. the number of books and materials that a library has lent.
  3. the processes connected with providing for the use of library materials, including reserve operations, recall, and record-keeping.
Hydraulics. a quantity analogous to work and equal to the line integral of the component of fluid velocity about a closed contour.
in circulation, participating actively in social or business life:
After a month in the hospital, he's back in circulation.
Origin of circulation
late Middle English
1400-50 for an earlier alchemical sense; 1645-55 for def 1; late Middle English circulacioun < Latin circulātiōn- (stem of circulātiō), equivalent to circulāt(us) (see circulate) + -iōn- -ion
Related forms
[sur-kyuh-luh-buh l] /ˈsɜr kyə lə bəl/ (Show IPA),
intercirculation, noun
noncirculation, noun
precirculation, noun
recirculation, noun Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the Web for circulation
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • The circulation was kept up and on the third day the whole mass was frozen.

    Inventors at Work George Iles
  • He rubbed his arms and legs to restore the circulation, and started to leave the building.

    Frank Roscoe's Secret Allen Chapman
  • No harm can come so long as the extremities are kept warm, and the circulation well balanced.

    Plain Facts for Old and Young John Harvey Kellogg
  • They have a tremendous circulation, it is true, but it is not the kind of circulation we have.

    A Woman Intervenes Robert Barr
  • Expanding business draws cash from the banks for circulation, trenching on reserves.

    The Value of Money Benjamin M. Anderson, Jr.
British Dictionary definitions for circulation


the transport of oxygenated blood through the arteries to the capillaries, where it nourishes the tissues, and the return of oxygen-depleted blood through the veins to the heart, where the cycle is renewed
the flow of sap through a plant
any movement through a closed circuit
the spreading or transmission of something to a wider group of people or area
(of air and water) free movement within an area or volume
  1. the distribution of newspapers, magazines, etc
  2. the number of copies of an issue of such a publication that are distributed
(library science)
  1. a book loan, as from a library lending department
  2. each loan transaction of a particular book
  3. the total issue of library books over a specified period
a rare term for circulating medium
in circulation
  1. (of currency) serving as a medium of exchange
  2. (of people) active in a social or business context
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
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Word Origin and History for circulation

mid-15c., from Middle French circulation or directly from Latin circulationem (nominative circulatio), noun of action from past participle stem of circulare "to form a circle," from circulus "small ring" (see circle (n.)). Used of blood first by William Harvey, 1620s.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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circulation in Medicine

circulation cir·cu·la·tion (sûr'kyə-lā'shən)
Movement in a circle or circuit, especially the movement of blood through bodily vessels as a result of the heart's pumping action.

The American Heritage® Stedman's Medical Dictionary
Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.
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circulation in Science
The flow of fluid, especially blood, through the tissues of an organism to allow for the transport and exchange of blood gases, nutrients, and waste products. In vertebrates, the circulation of blood to the tissues and back to the heart is caused by the pumping action of the heart. Oxygen-rich blood is carried away from the heart by the arteries, and oxygen-poor blood is returned to the heart by the veins. The circulation of lymph occurs in a separate system of vessels (the lymphatic system). Lymph is pumped back to the heart by the contraction of skeletal muscles.
The American Heritage® Science Dictionary
Copyright © 2002. Published by Houghton Mifflin. All rights reserved.
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Idioms and Phrases with circulation
The American Heritage® Idioms Dictionary
Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.
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