Make Your Editor Cry: (LATIN) Circa

Make Your Editor Cry:  (LATIN) Circa

“Circa” is another Latin term that means “around” or “approximately.” So, when I say “circa AD 2019,” I mean sometime around the year AD 2019.

The word comes from the Latin word “circum,” which is where we also get the words “circle,” “circumvent,” and “circumference.” “Circa” is sometimes abbreviated as just “c.,” “ca.,” (or, more rarely, as “cca.” or “cir.”).

“Circa” indicates that a number or value is approximate, not exact. For example, you might see sentences like “the construction of Stonehenge began circa 3000 BC.” You can use “circa” in relation to a specific year—“circa AD 2019”—or a wide range of time—as in “circa the early sixteenth century.”

More rarely, you may see “circa” in reference to measurements of amounts, such as “circa $45,000” or “c. 1.5 mL.”

Your meaning will often be clearer to your readers if you stick with English in the main body narrative of your text and save “c.” for things in parentheses and notes. For example, you might write “the construction of Stonehenge began around 3000 BC” or “… when Stonehenge began to be constructed (c. 3000 BC).”

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