Try Our Apps


Supposedly vs. Supposably

bread and circuses

something, as extravagant entertainment, offered as an expedient means of pacifying discontent or diverting attention from a source of grievance.
Origin of bread and circuses
1910-15; translation of Latin pānis et circēnsēs; from a remark by the Roman satirist Juvenal on the limited desires of the Roman populace Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
Cite This Source
bread-and-circuses in Culture

bread and circuses definition

A phrase used by a Roman writer to deplore the declining heroism of Romans after the Roman Republic ceased to exist and the Roman Empire began: “Two things only the people anxiously desire — bread and circuses.” The government kept the Roman populace happy by distributing free food and staging huge spectacles. (See Colosseum.)

Note: “Bread and circuses” has become a convenient general term for government policies that seek short-term solutions to public unrest.
The American Heritage® New Dictionary of Cultural Literacy, Third Edition
Copyright © 2005 by Houghton Mifflin Company.
Published by Houghton Mifflin Company. All rights reserved.
Cite This Source

Word of the Day

Difficulty index for bread and circuses

Few English speakers likely know this word

Word Value for bread

Scrabble Words With Friends

Nearby words for bread-and-circuses