Definition of circumference in English:

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Pronunciation: /sərˈkəmf(ə)rəns/
(abbreviation cir., circ., or circum.)


1The enclosing boundary of a curved geometric figure, especially a circle.
Example sentences
  • His last work was on the cycloid, the curve traced by a point on the circumference of a rolling circle.
  • The perimeter of the inner polygon is shorter than the circumference of the circle.
  • We should have a polygon inscribed in the circle the sides of which coincide with the circumference of the circle.
perimeter, border, boundary;
edge, rim, verge, margin, fringe
literary marge
1.1The distance around something: babies who have small head circumferences two inches in circumference
More example sentences
  • A hailstone with a 7-inch diameter and a circumference of 18.75 inches was recently named the largest hailstone ever recovered in the United States.
  • After measuring a drum shade, add 1 inch to the circumference and 3 inches to the height.
  • The winner of the under ten category was Scarlet, whose pumpkin had a circumference of 57 inches.
girth, width



Pronunciation: /sərˌkəmfəˈren(t)SH(ə)l/
Example sentences
  • With large or full-thickness burns, hospitalization may be necessary, especially if the patient has circumferential burns of the neck or extremity.
  • The block is bounded to west and south by via Piave, a circumferential street which perhaps marks an early town wall.
  • These larger crystals sometimes exhibit circumferential ridges.


Example sentences
  • In early European history, pointed spears or palisades circumferentially surrounded many castles for protection.
  • Microtubules are rigid, hollow cylindrical structures, each consisting of 10 to 15 parallel protofilaments arranged circumferentially.
  • These can be used individually or in combination, and are injected circumferentially around the periphery of the lesion during surgery.


Late Middle English: from Old French circonference, from Latin circumferentia, from circum 'around, about' + ferre 'carry, bear'.

  • A circle's circumference is the boundary or line that encloses it. The term comes via Old French from Latin circumferentia. Formed from circum, ‘around’, and ferre, ‘to carry’. English words beginning circum- all share some idea of ‘going around’ in their meaning. To circumscribe (Late Middle English) comes from Latin circum and scribere ‘to write’, circumspect (Late Middle English) literally means ‘looking around’, and circumcise (Middle English) ‘to cut round’. If you circumvent a problem (from Latin venire ‘to come’), you find a way round it, and if you circumnavigate (early 17th century) the world you sail round it. Circumstances (Middle English) come from Latin cimcumstare, ‘stand around’.

For editors and proofreaders

Syllabification: cir·cum·fer·ence

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