Definition of circumvallate in English:



[with object]
  • Surround with or as if with a rampart.

    ‘the walls were circumvallated with a ditch’
    • ‘In short, his is not the way of the great and daunting poets who circumvallated his time.’
    • ‘The settlement is circumvallated by a stake-fence, so decayed that one may gain ingress at a dozen places.’
    • ‘Unfortunately, the usability of the interface is simply too circumvallated to exploit it properly; content is more likely chanced upon than directed to.’
    • ‘Into the many remaining structural details we need not herein enter, except so far as to state that the entire construction is circumvallated by what appears to have been a sod-covered wall of stone.’
    • ‘Fortifications for the defence of Hull were granted license in 1322, in which year were begun the wall and ditch system which circumvallated the north, west and southern sides of the town, and which were to survive until the late 18th century.’


  • 1literary Surrounded or surrounding as if by a rampart.

    ‘circumvallate mountains’
    • ‘But, in between lengthy phrases and highly circumvallated metaphors, one finds precious gems of meaning’
    • ‘In the night of the 28th 2,000 French dragoons each laden with 60 pounds of gunpowder arrived at the circumvallating walls in disguise.’
  • 2Anatomy
    Denoting certain papillae near the back of the tongue, surrounded by taste receptors.

    • ‘Eight to 12 larger mushroom shaped (circumvallate) papillae, each surrounded by a circular trough, lie at the back of the tongue in a V-shaped formation; these have on average 250 taste buds each.’
    • ‘Foliate papillae are situated on the edge of the tongue slightly anterior of the circumvallate line.’
    • ‘When she puts sweet onto the circumvallates, she's testing the taste nerve at the tongue's back: the glossopharyngeal.’
    • ‘There are only two circumvallated papillae in the posterior third of the tongue, one on each side of the midline, keeping an oblique position.’
    • ‘Few days ago I saw something on TV about circumvallate papillae and ever since then I am very interested in that.’


Mid 17th century (as an adjective): from Latin circumvallat- ‘surrounded with a rampart’, from the verb circumvallare, from circum ‘around’ + vallare, from vallum ‘rampart’. The verb dates from the early 19th century.