SKIP TO CONTENT

circumscribe

To circumscribe is to limit or restrict. If you spend too much time watching TV instead of fulfilling other obligations, you might circumscribe your TV-watching time to one hour daily (or two hours, if your favorite show is on).

Circumscribe comes from the Latin words circum, meaning "around," and scribere, meaning "to write." If the word circumscribe causes you to think of geometry class, give yourself a pat on the back. In geometry, circumscribe means to draw one geometric figure around another figure so that the two figures touch but don’t intersect. If you studied geometry but this sounds unfamiliar, perhaps you should have taken our advice about watching too much TV.

Definitions of circumscribe
  1. verb
    draw a geometric figure around another figure so that the two are in contact but do not intersect
    see moresee less
    type of:
    delineate, describe, draw, line, trace
    make a mark or lines on a surface
  2. verb
    draw a line around
    see moresee less
    type of:
    delineate, describe, draw, line, trace
    make a mark or lines on a surface
  3. verb
    restrict or confine
    synonyms: confine, limit
    see moresee less
    types:
    show 9 types...
    hide 9 types...
    hold down
    restrain
    keep down, number
    place a limit on the number of
    cap
    restrict the number or amount of
    curb, curtail, cut back, restrict
    place restrictions on
    delimit, delimitate, demarcate
    set, mark, or draw the boundaries of something
    content
    satisfy in a limited way
    ration
    restrict the consumption of a relatively scarce commodity, as during war
    abridge
    lessen, diminish, or curtail
    immobilise, immobilize
    cause to be unable to move
    type of:
    decrease, lessen, minify
    make smaller
Word Family
EDITOR’S CHOICE

Test prep from the experts

Boost your test score with programs developed by Vocabulary.com’s experts.

  • Proven methods: Learn faster, remember longer with our scientific approach.
  • Personalized plan: We customize your experience to maximize your learning.
  • Strategic studying: Focus on the words that are most crucial for success.

SAT/PSAT

$29.95
  • Number of words: 500+
  • Duration: 8 weeks or less
  • Time: 1 hour / week

TOEFL

$29.95
  • Number of words: 500+
  • Duration: 10 weeks or less
  • Time: 1 hour / week

ACT

$29.95
  • Number of words: 700+
  • Duration: 10 weeks
  • Time: 1 hour / week