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short circuit

noun, Electricity
an abnormal, usually unintentional condition of relatively low resistance between two points of different potential in a circuit, usually resulting in a flow of excess current.


[shawrt-sur-kit] /ˌʃɔrtˈsɜr kɪt/
verb (used with object)
  1. to make (an appliance, switch, etc.) inoperable by establishing a short circuit in.
  2. to carry (a current) as a short circuit.
to bypass, impede, hinder, or frustrate:
Bad weather short-circuited my vacation plans.
verb (used without object)
Electricity. to form a short circuit or become inoperable due to a short circuit.
1870-75 Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the web for short-circuit
  • Also, if allowed to drain completely, they can short-circuit and make recharging dangerous.
  • Always a volatile politician, he may decide to short-circuit a miserable and inevitable decline and leave of his own volition.
  • The findings suggest that understanding the logic behind mob behavior may offer ways to short-circuit riots before they start.
  • Prisoners short-circuit electrical outlets, start fires, and cause other disturbances.
  • short-circuit anabolism through a circuit and the bugs work for you without reproduction.
  • If the membrane is pierced, the cell will short-circuit and die.
  • History shows that, inbuilt though that capacity may be, ideas can short-circuit it.
  • Present the data conclusions of the short-circuit study in a table format.
British Dictionary definitions for short-circuit

short circuit

a faulty or accidental connection between two points of different potential in an electric circuit, bypassing the load and establishing a path of low resistance through which an excessive current can flow. It can cause damage to the components if the circuit is not protected by a fuse
to develop or cause to develop a short circuit
(transitive) to bypass (a procedure, regulation, etc)
(transitive) to hinder or frustrate (plans, etc)
Sometimes (for senses 1, 2) shortened to short
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 short-circuit

short circuit


also short-circuit, 1854, in electricity, from short (adj.) + circuit (n.). As a verb, introduce a shunt of low resistance," from 1867; intransitive sense from 1902; in the figurative sense is recorded by 1899. Related: short-circuited; short-circuiting.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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short-circuit in Science
short circuit
An electrical path in a circuit that causes most of the current to flow around or away from some other path in the circuit. Accidental short circuits, especially between the high and low voltages of a power supply, can cause very strong current to flow, possibly damaging or overheating the circuit.
The American Heritage® Science Dictionary
Copyright © 2002. Published by Houghton Mifflin. All rights reserved.
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short-circuit in Culture

short circuit definition

An electrical circuit in which a path of very low resistance has been opened, usually accidentally. When the resistance drops, the electric current in the circuit becomes very high and can cause damage to the circuit and start fires.

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