circus

noun, often attributive
cir·​cus | \ ˈsər-kəs \

Definition of circus

1a : a large arena enclosed by tiers of seats on three or all four sides and used especially for sports or spectacles (such as athletic contests, exhibitions of horsemanship, or in ancient times chariot racing)
b : a public spectacle
2a : an arena often covered by a tent and used for variety shows usually including feats of physical skill, wild animal acts, and performances by clowns
b : a circus performance
c : the physical plant, livestock, and personnel of such a circus
d : something suggestive of a circus (as in frenzied activity, sensationalism, theatricality, or razzle-dazzle) a media circus
3a obsolete : circle, ring
b British : a usually circular area at an intersection of streets

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Other Words from circus

circusy \ ˈsər-​kə-​sē \ adjective

Examples of circus in a Sentence

He worked for a small circus. We're going to the circus.

Recent Examples on the Web

Historically, Super Bowl week is a mockable target—a circus-like crush of media nonsense that mostly embarrasses everyone associated with it. Jason Gay, WSJ, "Nobody Believes in Tom Brady. Or Something Like That.," 31 Jan. 2019 Regardless of what city Amazon picks, the HQ2 process, and the media circus around a Super Bowl for cities, has become a milestone in economic development. Patrick Sisson, Curbed, "Amazon HQ2: Why some cities feel like winners, despite losing," 28 Sep. 2018 SUBSCRIBE TODAY Thompson is one of five players -- and the only female -- drafted by the group known for its entertainment and circus-like traveling show. Drew Davison, star-telegram, "From Mansfield Timberview to the Harlem Globetrotters? Meet Lili Thompson," 19 June 2018 There was the impressor to find recruits for the circuses. WSJ, "In Hoc Anno Domini," 23 Dec. 2018 Even when the film pulls off an authentically creepy image or potential emotional moment, Nathan Barr’s garish score shoves the audience away from it, and back into the feel of a highly caffeinated circus. Tasha Robinson, The Verge, "Films like The House With a Clock In Its Walls are poisonous to kids’ cinema," 23 Sep. 2018 To furnish Democrats with another big talk for their divisive circus may actually be a mistake for Republicans. Fox News, "Women who know Kavanaugh respond to allegations against him," 17 Sep. 2018 So his circus cronies barge into a fancy party, with the Bearded Lady belting this song. Alex Abad-santos, Vox, "The Victoria’s Secret Fashion Show sells a fantasy of empowerment. I sorta believed it.," 3 Dec. 2018 Ever since its debut in 1924, the holiday event has evolved from a two-block procession of circus animals into what is easily our favorite over-the-top spectacular of the year (take that, Super Bowl Halftime Show). Caitlin Morton, Condé Nast Traveler, "Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade: 2018 Information and Event History," 21 Nov. 2018

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'circus.' 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 circus

14th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1a

History and Etymology for circus

Middle English, from Latin, circle, circus — more at circle

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Statistics for circus

Last Updated

7 Feb 2019

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for circus

The first known use of circus was in the 14th century

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More Definitions for circus

circus

noun

English Language Learners Definition of circus

: a traveling show that is often performed in a tent and that typically includes trained animals, clowns, acrobats, etc.
informal : a situation or event that is very busy, lively, and confusing and that attracts a lot of attention
British : a circular area where several streets meet

circus

noun
cir·​cus | \ ˈsər-kəs \

Kids Definition of circus

: a traveling show that often takes place under a tent and that usually includes acts performed by acrobats, clowns, and trained animals

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Comments on circus

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