bread and circuses

plural noun

Definition of bread and circuses

: a palliative offered especially to avert potential discontent

Examples of bread and circuses in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web At its gilded core, the Super Bowl is an annual carnival of excess that makes the bread and circuses of Roman antiquity seem quaint in comparison. Kim Kelly, The New Republic, "The Airport Workers Who Starved Themselves in the Super Bowl’s Shadow," 6 Feb. 2020 Both of you, stop your bickering and give us the bread and circuses of being able to watch pro basketball and hockey, to distract us while the world goes up in flames and in hate. Dp Opinion, The Denver Post, "Letters: If you can’t impeach …; Erosion in our society; No need to know whistle-blower; Fans are victims of greed; more responses (11/15/19)," 15 Nov. 2019 Worried about low turnout undermining the legitimacy of the results, the Kremlin resorted to bread and circuses. The Economist, "A fourth term for Russia’s perpetual president," 19 Mar. 2018

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'bread and circuses.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

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First Known Use of bread and circuses

1894, in the meaning defined above

History and Etymology for bread and circuses

translation of Latin panis et circenses

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Time Traveler for bread and circuses

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The first known use of bread and circuses was in 1894

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Cite this Entry

“Bread and circuses.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 6 Aug. 2020.

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