Definition of square the circle in US English:

square the circle


  • 1Construct a square equal in area to a given circle (a problem incapable of a purely geometric solution).

    • ‘The problem of squaring the circle, namely constructing a square with the same area as a given circle using ruler and compasses alone, had been one of the classical problems of Greek mathematics.’
    • ‘While in prison he tried to solve the problem of squaring the circle, that is constructing with ruler and compasses a square with area equal to that of a given circle.’
    • ‘One of the mathematical problems which ibn al-Haytham attacked was the problem of squaring the circle.’
    • ‘He is best remembered for his work in the history of mathematics, in particular he wrote a major article on squaring the circle and he also wrote biographies of mathematicians.’
    • ‘We do know some details of this method of squaring the circle and, despite the criticisms of Aristotle, it was an important step forward in the development of mathematics.’
    • ‘He claimed that the search for truth was equal to the task of squaring the circle.’
    • ‘In the following years he worked on mathematical topics, in particular trying to solve the classical Greek problem of squaring the circle.’
    • ‘This was the age when people were still optimistic of squaring the circle by a geometrical construction.’
    • ‘It is usually claimed that Dinostratus used the quadratrix, discovered by Hippias, to solve the problem of squaring the circle.’
    • ‘Three geometric construction problems from antiquity puzzled mathematicians for centuries: the trisection of an angle, squaring the circle, and duplicating the cube.’
    1. 1.1 Do something that is considered to be impossible.
      • ‘This is a direct result of social services having to square the circle of increased demand and reduced resources.’
      • ‘The reconciliation of a global economic system based on ‘free trade and shareholder value’ with social needs is equivalent to squaring the circle.’
      • ‘The author of Fear Of Flying - a mother who regrets having only one child and a veteran of four marriages who has spent her life trying to square the circle of feminism, career and family - is scared by what she sees around her.’
      • ‘Despite the apparent chasm between the parties, the Prime Minister's spokesman was optimistic that the governments would be able to square the circle.’
      • ‘In the run-up to the 2001 election, I wrote suggesting that the Tories could square the circle of higher spending on health and education with the tax cuts that had been in the party's DNA since 1979.’
      • ‘When the original idea of foundation hospitals emerged, it was a genuinely bold attempt to square the circle of a taxpayer funded health service, entrepreneurialism, efficiency and patient choice.’
      • ‘House builders have to square the circle of complying with government policy yet meeting customer demands for larger properties in peaceful locations.’
      • ‘In other words, the government's task is to square the circle: to win an electoral constituency for policies that are entirely incompatible with the interests of the majority of the population.’
      • ‘He attempted to square the circle by stating what we instinctively know already: that the international and domestic agendas are now two sides of the same coin.’
      • ‘This is clearly an attempt to square the circle as regards corporate clients; they want predictable, more sedate releases while Microsoft needs more frequent releases in order to get new technologies into the market.’