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circus

[sur-kuh s] /ˈsɜr kəs/
noun, plural circuses.
1.
a large public entertainment, typically presented in one or more very large tents or in an outdoor or indoor arena, featuring exhibitions of pageantry, feats of skill and daring, performing animals, etc., interspersed throughout with the slapstick antics of clowns.
Compare big top.
2.
a troupe of performers, especially a traveling troupe, that presents such entertainments, together with officials, other employees, and the company's performing animals, traveling wagons, tents, cages, and equipment.
3.
a circular arena surrounded by tiers of seats, in which public entertainments are held; arena.
4.
  1. a large, usually oblong or oval, roofless enclosure, surrounded by tiers of seats rising one above another, for chariot races, public games, etc.
  2. an entertainment given in this Roman arena, as a chariot race or public game:
    The Caesars appeased the public with bread and circuses.
5.
anything resembling the Roman circus, or arena, as a natural amphitheater or a circular range of houses.
7.
British. an open circle, square, or plaza where several streets converge:
Piccadilly Circus.
8.
fun, excitement, or uproar; a display of rowdy sport.
9.
Obsolete. a circlet or ring.
Origin
1350-1400
1350-1400; Middle English < Latin: circular region of the sky, oval space in which games were held, akin to (or borrowed from) Greek kírkos ring, circle
Related forms
circusy, adjective
Dictionary.com Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2014.
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Examples for circus
  • If he wasn't a rich guy, none of this circus would ever happen.
  • The trial itself was a circus, largely a publicity stunt for the county.
  • The venues showcase acrobatic shows, circus and magic acts, and exotic animals.
  • For example, they host tree planting dance parties and teach kids circus skills while throwing in tips on permaculture.
  • He has been asked more than once if he works for a circus.
  • Two teams of scientists have independently developed the beginnings of a technologically sophisticated worm circus.
  • The media circus inevitably turns elections into popularity contests.
  • Then still more customers arrived, the refrigerator got full, and the whole thing turned into a circus.
  • There is always something if not a lot to learn by watching a circus-one is both amazed by and sorry for the animals.
  • The films have the clamorous energy and showmanship of a traveling circus.
British Dictionary definitions for circus

circus

/ˈsɜːkəs/
noun (pl) -cuses
1.
a travelling company of entertainers such as acrobats, clowns, trapeze artistes, and trained animals
2.
a public performance given by such a company
3.
an oval or circular arena, usually tented and surrounded by tiers of seats, in which such a performance is held
4.
a travelling group of professional sportsmen a cricket circus
5.
(in ancient Rome)
  1. an open-air stadium, usually oval or oblong, for chariot races or public games
  2. the games themselves
6.
(Brit)
  1. an open place, usually circular, in a town, where several streets converge
  2. (capital when part of a name) Piccadilly Circus
7.
(informal) noisy or rowdy behaviour
8.
(informal) a person or group of people whose behaviour is wild, disorganized, or (esp unintentionally) comic
Word Origin
C16: from Latin, from Greek kirkos ring
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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Word Origin and History for circus
n.

late 14c., in reference to ancient Rome, from Latin circus "ring, circular line," which was applied by Romans to circular arenas for performances and contests and oval courses for racing (especially the Circus Maximus), from or cognate with Greek kirkos "a circle, a ring," from PIE *kirk- from root *(s)ker- "to turn, bend" (see ring (n.)).

In reference to modern large arenas for performances from 1791; sense then extended to the performing company, hence "traveling show" (originally traveling circus, 1838). Extended in World War I to squadrons of military aircraft. Meaning "lively uproar, chaotic hubbub" is from 1869. Sense in Picadilly Circus and other place names is from early 18c. sense "buildings arranged in a ring," also "circular road." The adjective form is circensian.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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Slang definitions & phrases for circus

circus

noun
  1. Any bright and uproarious occasion: You should have been there—it was a circus (1885+)
  2. sex show, often featuring bestial couplings (1870s+)

The Dictionary of American Slang, Fourth Edition by Barbara Ann Kipfer, PhD. and Robert L. Chapman, Ph.D.
Copyright (C) 2007 by HarperCollins Publishers.
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Idioms and Phrases with circus
The American Heritage® Idioms Dictionary
Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.
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