- An example of to circumscribe is to draw a circle around a square.
- An example of to circumscribe is to gate off sheep in a pen.
The definition of circumscribe means to draw a circle around something, or to close off or restrict.
transitive verb-·scribed·, -·scrib·ing
- to trace a line around; encircle; encompass
- to set or mark off the limits of; limit; confine
- to restrict the action of; restrain
- to draw a plane figure around (another plane figure) either to intersect each vertex of the inner figure, as a circle around a square, or to have each side of the outer figure tangent to the inner figure, as a square around a circle
- to enclose a solid figure within (another solid figure) in a similar manner, as a cube within a sphere or a sphere within a cube
Origin of circumscribeMiddle English circumscriben from Classical Latin circumscribere: see circum- and scribe
transitive verbcir·cum·scribed, cir·cum·scrib·ing, cir·cum·scribes
- To draw a line around; encircle.
- a. To form or mark the limits of; delineate: The hedge circumscribes the property.b. To limit narrowly; restrict: Their plans were circumscribed by a lack of money. See Synonyms at limit.
- a. To enclose (a polygon or polyhedron) within a configuration of lines, curves, or surfaces so that every vertex of the enclosed object is incident on the enclosing configuration.b. To erect (such a configuration) around a polygon or polyhedron: circumscribe a circle around a square.
Origin of circumscribeMiddle English circumscriben from Latin circumscrībere circum- circum- scrībere to write ; see skrībh- in Indo-European roots.
(third-person singular simple present circumscribes, present participle circumscribing, simple past and past participle circumscribed)