big top

big top

noun
1.
the largest or main tent of a circus.
2.
a circus.

Origin:
1890–95, Americanism

Dictionary.com Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2014.
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World English Dictionary
big top
 
n
1.  the main tent of a circus
2.  the circus itself

Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 10th Edition
2009 © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009
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American Heritage
Idioms & Phrases

big top

  1. The main tent of a circus, as in The high-wire act is almost always in the big top. [c. 1840]

  2. Underworld slang for a maximum-security prison, as in He was sentenced to ten years in the big top. [1950s]

The American Heritage® Dictionary of Idioms by Christine Ammer.
Copyright © 1997. Published by Houghton Mifflin.
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