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a prefix with the meaning “round about, around,” found in Latin loanwords, especially derivatives of verbs that had the general senses “to encompass or surround” (circumference; circumjacent; circumstance) or “to go around” by the means or in the manner specified by the verb (circumnavigate; circumscribe); on this basis forming adjectives in English with the meaning “surrounding” that named by the stem (circumocular; circumpolar).
Origin of circum-
< Latin circum around (accusative of circus; see circus, circle), orig. as an adv. fixed in relation to the v., later construed as a prefix

circum. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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British Dictionary definitions for circum


around; surrounding; on all sides: circumlocution, circumrotate
Word Origin
from Latin circum around, from circus circle
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
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Word Origin and History for circum


word-forming element meaning "around, all around, on all sides," from Latin circum- a common element in word-formation, from adverb and preposition circum "around, round about," literally "in a circle," probably accusative form of circus "ring" (see circus). In French, the element became circon-; Kitchin points out that con for cum is common even in classical Latin.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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circum in Medicine

circum- pref.
Around; about: circumduction.

The American Heritage® Stedman's Medical Dictionary
Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.
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circum in Science
A prefix meaning "around", as in circumscribe, to draw a figure around another figure.
The American Heritage® Science Dictionary
Copyright © 2002. Published by Houghton Mifflin. All rights reserved.
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Related Abbreviations for circum


The American Heritage® Abbreviations Dictionary, Third Edition
Copyright © 2005 by Houghton Mifflin Company.
Published by Houghton Mifflin Company. All rights reserved.
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