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[sur-kuh m-vent, sur-kuh m-vent] /ˌsɜr kəmˈvɛnt, ˈsɜr kəmˌvɛnt/
verb (used with object)
to go around or bypass:
to circumvent the lake; to circumvent the real issues.
to avoid (defeat, failure, unpleasantness, etc.) by artfulness or deception; avoid by anticipating or outwitting:
He circumvented capture by anticipating their movements.
to surround or encompass, as by stratagem; entrap:
to circumvent a body of enemy troops.
Origin of circumvent
1545-55; < Latin circumventus (past participle of circumvenīre to come around, surround, oppress, defraud), equivalent to circum- circum- + ven(īre) to come + -tus past participle suffix
Related forms
circumventer, circumventor, noun
circumvention, noun
circumventive, adjective
uncircumvented, adjective
2. escape, elude, evade, outwit. 3. encircle; ensnare. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the Web for circumvent
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • But the watchful Nephele contrived to circumvent her cruel designs, and succeeded in getting the children out of the palace.

  • Caste feeling will come in and shield and circumvent and get behind the law.

    Lotus Buds Amy Carmichael
  • Nature is strong, and she manages to circumvent, to a certain extent, the obstructive devices of man.

    Teaching the Child Patriotism Kate Upson Clarke
  • But Kennedy was an open enemy, and had a right to circumvent us if he could.

    Ireland as It Is Robert John Buckley (AKA R.J.B.)
  • Perhaps because it was deemed the hardest to circumvent, the use of conjuration against the life of the queen was most feared.

British Dictionary definitions for circumvent


verb (transitive)
to evade or go around
to outwit
to encircle (an enemy) so as to intercept or capture
Derived Forms
circumventer, circumventor, noun
circumvention, noun
circumventive, adjective
Word Origin
C15: from Latin circumvenīre, from circum- + venīre to come
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 circumvent

mid-15c., "to surround by hostile stratagem," from Latin circumventus, past participle of circumvenire "to get around, be around, encircle, surround," in figurative sense "to oppress, assail, cheat," from circum "around" (see circum-) + venire "to come" (see venue). Meaning "to go round" is from 1840. Related: Circumvented; circumventing.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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