What Does Circa Mean

This is What the Term 'Circa' Roughly Means, as Per Experts

What does circa mean? Have you been asked this question but not been able to answer? That's about to change with this article.
Penlighten Staff
Last Updated: Mar 19, 2018
The English language is quite rich in terms of its literary value and the influence that it has in people's everyday life. What made English so rich is its passive amalgamation and adaptation of words, phrases and meanings from other languages. Yes, English has borrowed quite a few words and phrases from other languages. While some of these words have been modified and used as English words, some of them are used in their original form, i.e., the foreign language word form. One of the most commonly used ones, that is used in its slightly modified form is the word circa. What does circa mean? Well, that's what you'll get to know in the following sections of this Penlighten article.

Meaning of Circa
Before we get into what circa means, let us see how the word actually came into being. Well, as most of you must have already probably guessed it, the word circa is a derivative of a Latin word. The Latin word circum means around. Hence, the word 'circa' is a modification of this word and has the form that we use today. It is also said to have a Roman influence. How so? Apparently, it has been derived from the word circus which was the circular arena in which Romans raced. Hence, the word circus meant round, which led to the formulation of circa, meaning around. But what does circa stand for? Let us see.

What It Stands For
Circa, as mentioned earlier, is derived from the Latin word meaning 'around'. Hence, the meanings that we can attribute to circa are also quite similar to the word around. Variations of around can be enlisted as:
  • approximately
  • almost
  • about
  • roughly
  • uncertain
  • close to
  • more or less
With these meanings, you can hazard a guess about what are the instances in which you can use this word appropriately. It is mostly used when someone wishes to mention something about an event that happened at a certain period of time, the accuracy of which is unknown. For instance, you're sure to have heard or read sentences like:

The country's economy flourished in trade circa 1800.

In this sentence, it means that the economy of the country flourished in the 1800s. However the exact date and time is not known. Hence, the term circa is used to state that it was somewhere around the 1800s.

In the same way, if you want to know what circa means in the context of one's salary, then read the following example.

The salary of the manager was circa $200 per day.

This sentence also implies that the manager's salary figure is tentatively around $200. It is not an exact figure, but just an approximation.

You can use the word in many similar sentences and instances. Given below are some more ways in which the word circa can be used.
  • He ruled the kingdom circa the 1700s.
  • She was abroad circa 20 years of her life.
  • He was imprisoned circa 1975.
  • That particular fashion saw its inception circa the 80s.
The word circa is often abbreviated as ca. or simply c. So, you can also write the sentence as:

She was born amidst the war ca.1651.

Now you must be clear about what the meaning and use of the word circa. So go on and spread the knowledge. While you're at it, you might also want to know about the origins of some words mentioned here. Have fun!