Definition of circumvent in English:



  • 1Find a way around (an obstacle)

    ‘if you come to an obstruction in a road you can seek to circumvent it’
    • ‘On the other hand, aerosolized particles that circumvent the blood-brain barrier might someday serve as delivery vehicles for drugs.’
    • ‘Two alternative explanations for these different recapture rates are that many hatchlings may have headed away from the drift fence or may have circumvented the drift fence.’
    • ‘He has gained a few moves in his repertoire, allowing him to circumvent obstacles.’
    • ‘They immediately blocked off the motorbike's attempt to circumvent the stop.’
    • ‘We broke the law on a weekly basis, when we circumvented the army's roadblocks in the roads.’
    • ‘He wanted to show me the ‘scenic’ route, 30 kilometers over back roads to circumvent mounds and checkpoints.’
    • ‘However, those inventive motorcyclists have managed to circumvent the obstacle.’
    • ‘The team apparently circumvented locked gates and an alarm system, while the sculpture was in the process of being moved to another location.’
    • ‘After three miles, we circumvented the gate that kept the cars out.’
    • ‘Heavily pregnant women have been forced to walk for miles to circumvent road blocks so as to receive treatment and deliver their babies.’
    avoid, get round, find a way round, evade, get past, bypass, sidestep, dodge
    overcome, outwit, outmanoeuvre, foil
    View synonyms
    1. 1.1Overcome (a problem or difficulty) in a clever and surreptitious way.
      ‘it was always possible to circumvent the regulations’
      • ‘So a lot of people were extremely happy when it was proven that it was possible to circumvent that barrier.’
      • ‘And in the past, counterfeiters have always managed to circumvent these obstacles.’
      • ‘However, the spokesman said retailers would seek to circumvent the rules.’
      • ‘Some bright spark probably thought that this would be a nice easy way to circumvent the usual obstacles in preventing freedom of speech.’
      • ‘To them, the law is simply a pretext for achieving desired results or (if not suited for that work) an obstacle to be circumvented for the same purpose.’
      • ‘‘The Commission has found creative, community-based programs that begin to circumvent the barriers,’ the report stated.’
      • ‘There is also evidence that their introduction has contributed to an increase in the size of the black economy as both employees and employers seek to circumvent the payment.’
      • ‘Inevitably one's thoughts turn to the matter of how, or even whether, the plans can be circumvented or stopped.’
      • ‘But if history is any guide, the Treasury Department has an uphill fight ahead of it; counterfeiters have a knack for circumventing almost any obstacle put in their way.’
      • ‘A common assumption made in the regulatory community to circumvent this problem is that one error offsets the other.’
      • ‘This is not a very realistic assumption but it makes it possible to circumvent the problem of determining the optimal amount of reserves.’
      • ‘At the same time, the number of people seeking private treatment is growing, as couples seek to circumvent long hospital waiting lists.’
      • ‘To circumvent a possible problem of low data number, we pooled the observed and expected values for the three transposon families.’
      • ‘Even if this is successful, Britain's media will undoubtedly seek to circumvent the ruling by fair means or foul.’
      • ‘I hope I can circumvent the barriers I may have previously erected around my heart.’
      • ‘Where the mobility of goods is limited, the rationale for establishing subsidiaries has been to circumvent the distance barriers and use the owner-specific advantages of the firm to engage in production in more locations.’
      • ‘Another benefit of a social ecological perspective is that it enables health practitioners to target and circumvent potential barriers to appropriate use of the healthcare system.’
      • ‘Faced with these challenges from the state, non-state dissident actors must either adjust to the constraints put on Internet use or must seek ways to circumvent the barriers erected by states.’
      • ‘Clever strategists that we were, we decided to circumvent this problem or objection by presenting a symposium rather than submitting independent papers.’
      • ‘But logic tells me that any measures like these simply create obstacles that will be circumvented by those who choose to break the law but discourage foreign investors.’
      avoid, get round, find a way round, evade, get past, bypass, sidestep, dodge
      overcome, outwit, outmanoeuvre, foil
      View synonyms
  • 2archaic Deceive; outwit.

    ‘he's circumvented her with some of his stories’
    avoid, get round, find a way round, evade, get past, bypass, sidestep, dodge
    overcome, outwit, outmanoeuvre, foil
    View synonyms


Late Middle English: from Latin circumvent- skirted around, from the verb circumvenire, from circum around + venire come.