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Various circumscribed quadrilaterals: note the circles.


From Latin circumscrībō, from circum (around) + scrībō (write). Surface analysis: circum- (around) +‎ scribe (write).


  • (UK) IPA(key): /ˈsɜː.kəm.skɹaɪb/
  • (US) IPA(key): /ˈsɝ.kəm.skɹaɪb/
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  • Rhymes: -aɪb


circumscribe (third-person singular simple present circumscribes, present participle circumscribing, simple past and past participle circumscribed)

  1. To draw a line around; to encircle.
  2. To limit narrowly; to restrict.
    • 2013 June 7, David Simpson, “Fantasy of navigation”, in The Guardian Weekly, volume 188, number 26, page 36:
      It is tempting to speculate about the incentives or compulsions that might explain why anyone would take to the skies in [the] basket [of a balloon]: […]; perhaps to moralise on the oneness or fragility of the planet, or to see humanity for the small and circumscribed thing that it is; […].
  3. (geometry) To draw the smallest circle or higher-dimensional sphere that has (a polyhedron, polygon, etc.) in its interior.

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