The distance around a circle is called the circumference, and although circumference is often used when talking about round things, it can mean a boundary of any shape that completely surrounds something.

It’s no coincidence that the first part of circumference looks like circle. The Latin word circum means “around,” and the root ferre is the Latin verb for “carry,” so imagine carrying a puppy around a circle pit of lava: the path you walk is the circumference. If you want to buy a new hat, you’ll need to measure the circumference of your head, and patrolling the circumference of your castle is a good way to protect against dragons.

Definitions of circumference

n the length of the closed curve of a circle

Type of:
the linear extent in space from one end to the other; the longest dimension of something that is fixed in place

n the boundary line encompassing an area or object

“he had walked the full circumference of his land”
“a danger to all races over the whole circumference of the globe”
Type of:
border, borderline, boundary line, delimitation, mete
a line that indicates a boundary

n the size of something as given by the distance around it

the distance around a person's body
the expansion of a person's girth (especially at middle age)
Type of:
the physical magnitude of something (how big it is)

Sign up, it's free!

Whether you're a student, an educator, or a lifelong learner, can put you on the path to systematic vocabulary improvement.