Definition of circulate in US English:



  • 1Move or cause to move 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’
    • ‘A refrigerant, commonly known by the brand name of Freon, circulates through the system.’
    • ‘There may be 20,000 different proteins circulating in the blood, but few tests link any one of them decisively to a cancer.’
    • ‘It is tempting to think the virus does not circulate in my social group.’
    • ‘It can even indirectly prevent disease by stimulating the immune system and circulating hormones.’
    • ‘The early vaccines focused on antibodies, circulating chemicals in the blood stream which in theory stop HIV locking onto white blood cells.’
    • ‘A direct solar water heating system circulates household water through collectors and is not appropriate in climates in which freezing temperatures occur.’
    • ‘These and the deeper tunnels form a ram system that circulates gases.’
    • ‘However, water in the heating system circulates, so would not be a draw on the mains water.’
    • ‘An air pump circulates a continuous flow of air through the device, replacing any air that is lost through the surface's pores.’
    • ‘To truly loop or recur, the message or information needs eventually to circulate back through the system toward its originary point.’
    • ‘The company makes mattresses from visco-elastic foam with an open-cell structure that allows air to circulate freely.’
    • ‘A soft breeze circulated the area and petals were blown off the tree.’
    • ‘The aquapark is situated on a 40 sq m area and its equipment circulates about 35000 cubic metres of water.’
    • ‘A titer test doesn't measure immunity, but it does measure antibodies circulating in the system.’
    • ‘But some testosterone remains freely circulating in the bloodstream.’
    • ‘Some rogue pathogens seem to be freely circulating in that county.’
    • ‘Central heating systems are equipped with a fan that constantly circulates the air in the area being heated.’
    • ‘Each deck or cloister is wide enough for people to circulate while others work or chat.’
    • ‘The system circulates water through 48 vertical wells, each 300ft deep.’
    • ‘Adverts on Blackburn buses have begun to circulate across the area.’
    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.
      • ‘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 or cause to pass from place to place or person to person.

    no object ‘rumors of his arrest circulated’
    with object ‘they were circulating the list to conservation groups’
    • ‘I want to ask you about the video that has been circulating in the past couple days.’
    • ‘Scottish coins were always in chronically short supply while foreign money circulated freely.’
    • ‘The allegations have been circulating for many months.’
    • ‘They accused us of being unprofessional in a number of ways, saying that we were responsible for rumors circulating among journalists.’
    • ‘Outside the official investigation, a different story began to circulate.’
    • ‘The deaths have prompted fears that a rogue shipment of deadly drugs may be circulating in the area.’
    • ‘The Internet is essentially a system for circulating information.’
    • ‘But local authorities want to turn it into a high-tech hub, which means information and ideas need to circulate freely.’
    • ‘Word that a mystery guest speaker would address the Socialist throng around midday began to circulate.’
    • ‘Two different reports circulated about their return to the world of pop.’
    • ‘The manuscript had been circulated among various publishers, most of whom shied away from this provocative treatment of a sensitive subject.’
    • ‘Local people said that whistles and horns were circulated among the community for the scaled-down protest.’
    • ‘Rumours that an entrepreneur may buy the doomed factory have been circulating among workers and the local business community.’
    • ‘Drugs are circulating more freely than before due to presence of mobile phones.’
    • ‘There are also requests circulating via mails.’
    • ‘As well as a public meeting, the Town Council has organised a petition which is being circulated around the area.’
    • ‘Day's paper also looked different from what typically circulated in the coffeehouses and merchant exchanges.’
    • ‘I have no affiliation with her company, except that I once reviewed the product that is now being pirated and circulated freely around.’
    • ‘The US dollar not only circulates freely but is positively welcomed in hotels, shops and street markets throughout the country.’
    • ‘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.’
    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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Late 15th century (as an alchemical term meaning ‘distill something in a closed container, allowing condensed vapor 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.