big top

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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