verb (used without object), cir·cu·lat·ed, cir·cu·lat·ing.

  1. to move in a circle or circuit; move or pass through a circuit back to the starting point: Blood circulates throughout the body.
  2. to pass from place to place, from person to person, etc.: She circulated among her guests.
  3. to be distributed or sold, especially over a wide area.
  4. Library Science. (of books and other materials) to be available for borrowing by patrons of a library for a specified period of time.

verb (used with object), cir·cu·lat·ed, cir·cu·lat·ing.

  1. to cause to pass from place to place, person to person, etc.; disseminate; distribute: to circulate a rumor.
  2. Library Science. to lend (books and other materials) to patrons of a library for a specified period of time.


  1. to send, go, or pass from place to place or person to persondon’t circulate the news
  2. to distribute or be distributed over a wide area
  3. to move or cause to move through a circuit, system, etc, returning to the starting pointblood circulates through the body
  4. to move in a circlethe earth circulates around the sun

adj.1749, from un- (1) “not” + past participle of circulate (see circulation). v.1540s (late 15c. as a past participle adjective), as a chemical term for alternating vaporization and condensation, from Latin circulatus, past participle of circulare “to form a circle,” from circulus (see circle (n.)). Meaning “to move around, revolve” is from 1670s; of blood, from 1650s; of persons, “to mingle in a social gathering,” from 1863. Sense of “to pass about freely” is from 1660s; of newspapers from 1885. Related: Circulated; circulating.

  1. To move in or flow through a circle or a circuit. Blood circulates through the body as it flows out from the heart to the tissues and back again.

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