The definition of the word "circumvent" from the Cambridge dictionary:

to avoid something, especially cleverly or illegally: to avoid something by going around it:

It seems to me that we use this word when we manage to achieve an end or a goal by going around an obstacle or problem. In other words, the two elements of obstacle and goal have to be present for us to use this word in a way that makes sense. According to what I mentioned the use of the word must sound odd or out of place in the following paragraph

As far as businesses are concerned, one way to circumvent cyber-related problems is for the CEOs to ask their employees not to use the premises’ devices for personal use, such as chatting, or sending E-mails.

Am I correct to think that it is out of place here? I believe this to be the case because cyber-related problems are not obstacles on the way to an end or goal; they are just problems that are to be avoided altogether. If I'm correct, what better alternatives are there?

  • 3
    "cyber-related problems are not obstacles on the way to an end or goal" Why not? Oct 18, 2021 at 10:12
  • how so? I can't see how they could be an obstacle to a goal...
    – Fermichem
    Oct 18, 2021 at 11:16
  • 3
    As @Astralbee says, if one of a company's goals is (as is usual) to avoid or reduce the risk of data loss from cyber-related problems including, for example, ransomware attacks, then such an attack would be a very large obstacle to achieving that goal. Oct 18, 2021 at 11:30

1 Answer 1


It doesn't seem out of place at all.

When dealing with known problems, there are really two kinds of approach - a combative approach (ie fighting the problem when it occurs) and a preventative approach (taking measures to stop the problem from occurring in the first place.

With cyber security, most people take both lines of defence - for example, you may have a firewall to prevent attacks from reaching your network, but devices on the network usually have antivirus software to combat any attacks that do get through.

'Circumenting' an issue means to go around or avoid. Circumventing a problem is a preventative measure, and that is exactly what your text describes - disallowing certain unsafe practices that could lead to security issues, rather than waiting for the issues to happen and then fighting them.

I'm not sure why you don't see cyber security issues as an 'obstacle'. Is having a system that is free from viruses and security attacks not a goal? It certainly would be if your role was cyber security. Even from the point of view of a system user, they have a job to do on a system and a security breach could prevent them from working, so security problems would certainly be an obstacle that stops them reaching their goal.

  • So it is synonymous with the word avoid in this context?
    – Fermichem
    Oct 18, 2021 at 8:22
  • 1
    @Fermichem Pretty much, yes.
    – Astralbee
    Oct 18, 2021 at 8:33

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