1175-1225;Middle English < Latincircumstantia (circumstant-, stem of circumstāns, present participle of circumstāre to stand round), equivalent to circum-circum- + stā-stand + -nt present participle suffix + -ia noun suffix; see -ance
early 13c., "conditions surrounding and accompanying an event," from L. circumstantia "surrounding condition," neut. pl. of circumstans (gen. circumstantis), prp. of circumstare "stand around," from circum "around" + stare "to stand" from PIE base *sta- "to stand" (see stet). Meaning "a person's surroundings, environment" is from mid-14c. Obsolete sense of "formality about an important event" (late 14c.) lingers in Shakespeare's phrase pomp and circumstance ("Othello" III, iii).