- Date: 14th century
- 1 a : to constrict the range or activity of definitely and clearly <his role was carefully circumscribed>
- b : to define or mark off carefully <a study of plant species in a circumscribed area>
- 2 a : to draw a line around
- b : to surround by or as if by a boundary <fields circumscribed by tall trees>
- 3 : to construct or be constructed around (a geometrical figure) so as to touch as many points as possible
A related notion is the one of a minimum bounding circle, which is the smallest circle that completely contains the polygon within it. Not every polygon has a circumscribed circle, as the vertices of a polygon do not need to all lie on a circle, but every polygon has unique minimum bounding circle, which may be constructed by a linear time algorithm. Even if a polygon has a circumscribed circle, it may not coincide with its minimum bounding circle; for example, for an obtuse triangle, the minimum bounding circle has the longest side as diameter and does not pass through the opposite vertex.