from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

  • transitive v. To surround (an enemy, for example); enclose or entrap.
  • transitive v. To go around; bypass: circumvented the city.
  • transitive v. To avoid or get around by artful maneuvering: She planned a way to circumvent all the bureaucratic red tape.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • v. to avoid or get around something; to bypass
  • v. to surround or besiege
  • v. to outwit or outsmart

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • transitive v. To gain advantage over by arts, stratagem, or deception; to decieve; to delude; to get around.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • To gain advantage over by artfulness, stratagem, or deception; defeat or get the better of by cunning; get around; outwit; overreach: as, to circumvent one's enemies.
  • Synonyms See cheat.

from WordNet 3.0 Copyright 2006 by Princeton University. All rights reserved.

  • v. avoid or try to avoid fulfilling, answering, or performing (duties, questions, or issues)
  • v. beat through cleverness and wit
  • v. surround so as to force to give up


Middle English circumventen, from Latin circumvenīre, circumvent- : circum-, circum- + venīre, to go, come; see gwā- in Indo-European roots.
(American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition)
Latin circum ("about") + venire ("to come") (Wiktionary)


  • And they want to kind of circumvent the will of our grassroots delegates that nominated Congressman Castle to be our endorsed candidate.

    Tea Party Sets Sights On Delaware

  • This latest gambit, he argued, was simply an attempt to "circumvent" the law.

    Actual Innocence

  • A fine argument if there actually is a legal immigration procedure for many of those who 'circumvent' it; Which there isn't.

    Still More on Immigration, Arnold Kling | EconLog | Library of Economics and Liberty

  • He posits that "the Justices were largely influenced by their attitudes on two issues: first, the degree to which Congress may 'circumvent' the Treason Clause by proscribing conduct covered by treason under a different heading and without the same procedural safeguards; and second, the degree to which the Framers intended treason prosecutions to be exceedingly rare and difficult."

    Crane on Cramer v. United States

  • JOE WYNN, VETERANS ENTERPRISE TRAINING & SERVICES: The employers don't continue to keep that position active, and so does find a way to kind of circumvent the law.

    CNN Transcript Sep 5, 2009

  • JOE WYNN, VETERANS ENTERPRISE TRAINING & SERVICES: The employers don't continue to keep that position active and so, thus, find a way to kind of circumvent the law.

    CNN Transcript Aug 31, 2009

  • This new initiative is an attempt to "circumvent" international justice, said Mahjoub Hussain, spokesman for another rebel group, the

    ANC Daily News Briefing

  • Jews don't "circumvent" stuff like "I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father but through Me," they just willfully reject it.

    7 new sins.

  • But, no, she is not going to kind of circumvent that by making some sort of back deal.

    CNN Transcript Jun 2, 2008

  • It seems to me that the president didn't simply "circumvent" the law, as you stated, but actually broke it.

    Mail Call


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  • verb: cleverly find a way out of one's duties or obligations

    One way of circumventing the GRE is to apply to a grad school that does not require GRE scores.

    October 19, 2016

  • In railway telegraphy, circumvent stood for the phrase "Is claimant willing to accept a less sum than the full claim in settlement?" --US Railway Association, Standard Cipher Code, 1906.

    January 21, 2013

  • to get around

    June 19, 2007

  • An opening in the front of boxer shorts. --Mensa word list winner 2006

    March 2, 2007