| Definition -
The ˆ symbol used as a diacritical mark in languages such as French (e.g. â and ê).
1. In English it is sometimes retained in loanwords from other languages (e.g. rôle).
Etymology - The word derives from the Latin circumflexus, bent about. According to the OED, the Latin term was coined as a loan translation of the Greek perispomenos, which literally means "drawn-around." According to Herodian (circa 150 CE), the symbol was invented by Aristophanes of Byzantium.
Oxford English Dictionary - Its first citation is from 1577:
"The grave accent is marked by this caract ´, the light accent is noted thus `, and the circumflex, or indifferent is thus signified ˜"
(Gascoigne Wks. (1587) Djb)