a traveling amusement show, having sideshows, rides, etc.
any merrymaking, revelry, or festival, as a program of sports or entertainment: a winter carnival.
the season immediately preceding Lent, often observed with merrymaking; Shrovetide.

1540–50; < Italian carnevale, Old Italian carnelevare taking meat away, equivalent to carne flesh (< Latin carnem, accusative of caro) + levare < Latin levāre to lift

carnivalesque, carnivallike, adjective
precarnival, adjective

2. fair, celebration, fete, holiday. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2014.
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World English Dictionary
carnival (ˈkɑːnɪvəl)
1.  a.  a festive occasion or period marked by merrymaking, processions, etc: esp in some Roman Catholic countries, the period just before Lent
 b.  (as modifier): a carnival atmosphere
2.  a travelling fair having merry-go-rounds, etc
3.  a show or display arranged as an amusement
4.  (Austral) a sports meeting
[C16: from Italian carnevale, from Old Italian carnelevare a removing of meat (referring to the Lenten fast)]

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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Word Origin & History

1549, "time of merrymaking before Lent," from It. carnevale "Shrove Tuesday," from older It. forms like Milanese *carnelevale, O.Pisan carnelevare "to remove meat," lit. "raising flesh," from L. caro "flesh" + levare "lighten, raise;" folk etymology is from M.L. carne vale " 'flesh, farewell.' " Meaning
"a circus or fair" is 1931, N.Amer., as is the short form carny for "one who works at a carnival."
Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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Example sentences
It's a celebration or carnival to mark the end of winter.
Soon cowboys herd the ponies through town to the carnival grounds.
Thanks for submitting this post to our blog carnival.
But the event already has the grisly carnival atmosphere of a public execution.
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