Etymology
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circle (n.)

c. 1300, "figure of a circle, a plane figure whose periphery is everywhere equidistant from its center point," from Old French cercle "circle, ring (for the finger); hoop of a helmet or barrel" (12c.), from Latin circulus "circular figure; small ring, hoop; circular orbit" (also source of Italian cerchio), diminutive of circus "ring" (see circus).

Replaced Old English trendel and hring. Late Old English used circul, from Latin, but only in an astronomical sense. Also used of things felt to be analogous to a circle: The meaning "group of persons surrounding a center of interest" is from 1714 (it also was a secondary sense of Latin circulus); that of "coterie" is from 1640s (a sense also found in Latin circulus).

To come full circle is in Shakespeare. Sense in logic, "inconclusive argument in which unproved statements are used to prove each other" is from 1640s. Meaning "dark mark around or beneath the eyes" is from 1848.

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circle (v.)

late 14c., cerclen, "to shape like a globe," also "to encompass or surround with a circle," from circle (n.). From c. 1400 as "to set in a circular pattern;" mid-15c. as "to move round in a circle." Related: Circled; circling. To circle the wagons, figuratively, "assume an alert defensive stance" is from 1969, from old Western movies.

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circle-wise (adj.)

also circlewise, "in a circle," 1540s, from circle (n.) + wise (adj.).

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circlet (n.)

"a small circle," late 15c., from French cerclet, diminutive of cercle (see circle (n.)).

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encircle (v.)

"form a circle round, enclose or surround circularly," c. 1400, from en- (1) "make, put in" + circle (n.). Related: Encircled; encircling.

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circulatory (adj.)

"moving through a circuit," c. 1600, of blood, from French circulatoire or directly from Latin circulatorius, from circulator, agent noun from circulare "form a circle," from circulus (see circle (n.)). Circulatory system is recorded from 1862.

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semicircle (n.)

also semi-circle, "the half of a circle," 1520s, from semi- + circle (n.) or else from Latin semicirculus. Also compare semicircular. The meaning "a body or arrangement of objects in a half circle" is by 1590s.

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circular (adj.)

late 14c., "round, having the form of a circle," from Anglo-French circuler, Old French circuler "circular" (14c., Modern French circulaire), from Latin circularis, from circulus "small ring" (see circle (n.)). Meaning "intended for circulation" is from 1650s. The metaphoric circular firing squad is attested by 1990.

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circulate (v.)

1540s as a chemical term in reference to alternating vaporization and condensation, from Latin circulatus, past participle of circulare "to form a circle," from circulus "small ring" (see circle (n.)).

Intransitive sense of "to pass about freely, pass from place to place or person to person" is from 1660s; of newspapers from 1885. Of blood, "to flow in a continuous circuit," from 1650s; of persons, "to mingle in a social gathering," from 1863. Related: Circulated; circulating.

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