Did you know?

Click any word in a definition or example to find the entry for that word

circle - definition and synonyms


What are red words?

90% of the time, speakers of English use just 7,500 words in speech and writing. These words appear in red, and are graded with stars. One-star words are frequent, two-star words are more frequent, and three-star words are the most frequent.



The thesaurus of synonyms and related words is fully integrated into the dictionary. Click on the thesaurus category heading under the button in an entry to see the synonyms and related words for that meaning.

verb circle pronunciation in American English /ˈsɜrk(ə)l/
Word Forms
present tense
present participlecircling
past tensecircled
past participlecircled
  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  1. 1
    [transitive] to draw a circle around something

    Someone had circled the next paragraph in red.

  2. 2
    [intransitive/transitive] to move in a circle in the air

    The plane continued to circle the airport, waiting for permission to land.

    1. a.
      to move in a circle on the ground

      The dog circled him, barking.

      circle around:

      The two men began circling slowly around each other.

  3. 3
    [transitive] to form a circle around something

    Her arms circled his neck.

  4. From our crowdsourced Open Dictionary
    circle the drain to be about to die, fail or disappear

    Our economy is circling the drain and all we have is a plan to make a plan.

    Doctors told me I had circled the drain for several days at Rancho Springs Hospital and doctors there thought I was going to die.

    Submitted from United Kingdom on 16/02/2015


used to describe something which is done more carefully and over a longer period of time …

BuzzWord Article

Open Dictionary


the practice of giving birth in the presence of several friends and relatives

add a word


A must for anyone with an interest in the changing face of language. The Macmillan Dictionary blog explores English as it is spoken around the world today.

global English and language change from our blog
Macmillan learn live love play