Definition of circumflex in English:


(also circumflex accent)


  • A mark (^) placed over a vowel in some languages to indicate contraction, length, or a particular quality.

    • ‘The modern French ‘notre dame’ does not carry a circumflex accent.’
    • ‘The 1740 edition of the dictionary of the Académie française altered the spelling of 36% of French words, chiefly replacing mute s by acute and circumflex accents.’
    • ‘The evidence is that originally the German keyboard produced circumflexes instead of umlauts but it was replaced by an English keyboard.’
    • ‘The French have had a crack at reforming plurals and circumflexes.’
    • ‘Modern Greek also retains from the ancient language a system of three pitch accents: acute, circumflex and grave.’
    • ‘Some speakers would give these words the circumflex, but it would be the rising circumflex, so that the sound would still terminate with the rising inflection.’
    • ‘There should be a circumflex accent on the ‘y’ of ‘Llýn ’, not an acute.’


  • Bending round something else; curved.

    ‘circumflex coronary arteries’
    • ‘4 left circumflex coronary arteries were affected.’
    • ‘The left circumflex artery was 90% obstructed by a plaque at 2.8 cm from its origin.’
    • ‘Although there is great individual variation, most people have three major coronary arteries: the right coronary artery, left anterior descending branch and left circumflex branch.’
    • ‘The left circumflex coronary artery showed severe calcific atherosclerosis.’
    • ‘The anterior and the posterior circumflex humeral arteries may be doubled.’


Late 16th century: from Latin circumflexus (from circum ‘around, about’ + flectere ‘to bend’), translating Greek perispōmenos ‘drawn around’.