Definition of circulate in English:



  • 1Move continuously or freely through a closed system or area.

    no object ‘antibodies circulate in the bloodstream’
    with object ‘the fan circulates hot air around the oven’
    • ‘The aquapark is situated on a 40 sq m area and its equipment circulates about 35000 cubic metres of water.’
    • ‘The company makes mattresses from visco-elastic foam with an open-cell structure that allows air to circulate freely.’
    • ‘A direct solar water heating system circulates household water through collectors and is not appropriate in climates in which freezing temperatures occur.’
    • ‘A soft breeze circulated the area and petals were blown off the tree.’
    • ‘But some testosterone remains freely circulating in the bloodstream.’
    • ‘A refrigerant, commonly known by the brand name of Freon, circulates through the system.’
    • ‘It is tempting to think the virus does not circulate in my social group.’
    • ‘A titer test doesn't measure immunity, but it does measure antibodies circulating in the system.’
    • ‘To truly loop or recur, the message or information needs eventually to circulate back through the system toward its originary point.’
    • ‘Each deck or cloister is wide enough for people to circulate while others work or chat.’
    • ‘Some rogue pathogens seem to be freely circulating in that county.’
    • ‘The system circulates water through 48 vertical wells, each 300ft deep.’
    • ‘There may be 20,000 different proteins circulating in the blood, but few tests link any one of them decisively to a cancer.’
    • ‘It can even indirectly prevent disease by stimulating the immune system and circulating hormones.’
    • ‘Adverts on Blackburn buses have begun to circulate across the area.’
    • ‘However, water in the heating system circulates, so would not be a draw on the mains water.’
    • ‘These and the deeper tunnels form a ram system that circulates gases.’
    • ‘An air pump circulates a continuous flow of air through the device, replacing any air that is lost through the surface's pores.’
    • ‘Central heating systems are equipped with a fan that constantly circulates the air in the area being heated.’
    • ‘The early vaccines focused on antibodies, circulating chemicals in the blood stream which in theory stop HIV locking onto white blood cells.’
    flow, course, move round, go round
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    1. 1.1no object Move around a social function in order to talk to many different people.
      ‘the couple circulated, chatting to their guests’
      • ‘We go to a restaurant and eat, and circulate to chat with other locals, trying to make a plan.’
      • ‘When we were invited to a party we couldn't circulate as a couple.’
      socialize, mingle
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  • 2Pass from place to place or person to person.

    no object ‘rumours of his arrest circulated’
    with object ‘they were circulating the list to conservation groups’
    • ‘Outside the official investigation, a different story began to circulate.’
    • ‘The allegations have been circulating for many months.’
    • ‘Day's paper also looked different from what typically circulated in the coffeehouses and merchant exchanges.’
    • ‘Local people said that whistles and horns were circulated among the community for the scaled-down protest.’
    • ‘Scottish coins were always in chronically short supply while foreign money circulated freely.’
    • ‘Word that a mystery guest speaker would address the Socialist throng around midday began to circulate.’
    • ‘The US dollar not only circulates freely but is positively welcomed in hotels, shops and street markets throughout the country.’
    • ‘They accused us of being unprofessional in a number of ways, saying that we were responsible for rumors circulating among journalists.’
    • ‘Rumours that an entrepreneur may buy the doomed factory have been circulating among workers and the local business community.’
    • ‘Two different reports circulated about their return to the world of pop.’
    • ‘I want to ask you about the video that has been circulating in the past couple days.’
    • ‘The deaths have prompted fears that a rogue shipment of deadly drugs may be circulating in the area.’
    • ‘The manuscript had been circulated among various publishers, most of whom shied away from this provocative treatment of a sensitive subject.’
    • ‘There are also requests circulating via mails.’
    • ‘I have no affiliation with her company, except that I once reviewed the product that is now being pirated and circulated freely around.’
    • ‘Tapes of these activities are intended to be circulated around the area, but please be patient as the director's cut is yet to be finalised.’
    • ‘As well as a public meeting, the Town Council has organised a petition which is being circulated around the area.’
    • ‘Drugs are circulating more freely than before due to presence of mobile phones.’
    • ‘But local authorities want to turn it into a high-tech hub, which means information and ideas need to circulate freely.’
    • ‘The Internet is essentially a system for circulating information.’
    spread, spread about, spread around, pass around, pass on, communicate, disseminate, transmit, make known, air, put about, bandy about
    spread, be passed around, get around, go the rounds
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    1. 2.1with object Send copies of a letter or leaflet to (a group of people)
      ‘tutors were circulated with the handout’
      • ‘A total of 276 letters have been circulated as part of the operation, which is aimed at tackling anti-social behaviour.’
      • ‘If you prefer, you can simply make a donation or help circulate donation leaflets.’
      • ‘The company circulated a letter stating the outlet was losing money and may have to close.’
      • ‘A cruel hoax letter is being circulated, asking businesses to help a seven-year-old boy with cancer.’
      • ‘My own report on this was circulated a couple of days later.’
      • ‘They say the Liberal Democrats have circulated a political leaflet asking people their views on the issue.’
      • ‘Flyers urging people to join the mass rally were circulated in the area.’
      • ‘Transport bosses are circulating thousands of copies of a newsletter.’
      • ‘Residents write down information anonymously about suspicious people or activity they see in their area on forms circulated by the police.’
      • ‘The club had previously circulated letters to the community informing them about the recycling bins.’
      • ‘The aim of the societies was to circulate letters and pamphlets and to initiate orderly debates on reform proposals.’
      • ‘He made a point of also circulating his letter to every local authority.’
      • ‘The paper was never published, but it was circulated among training directors.’
      • ‘Why waste taxpayers' money by circulating letters asking for comments only to ignore them when they are offered?’
      • ‘To advertise the hotline number, posters in Urdu and English will be circulated in Warrington.’
      • ‘The clerk was asked to circulate a letter to local organisations to see if any volunteers were forthcoming.’
      • ‘They will circulate posters and leaflets carrying his photograph.’
      • ‘He is circulating a pastoral letter to Catholics in the capital this weekend, laying out his plans for a consultation exercise.’
      • ‘The company formally apologised to the community and circulated a leaflet explaining what had happened.’
      • ‘The school circulated a copy of the letter to parents prior to the Easter holidays.’


Late 15th century (as an alchemical term meaning ‘distil something in a closed container, allowing condensed vapour to return to the original liquid’): from Latin circulat- ‘moved in a circular path’, from the verb circulare, from circulus ‘small ring’ (see circle). circulate (sense 1) dates from the mid 17th century.