circus

noun, often attributive
cir·​cus | \ ˈsər-kəs How to pronounce circus (audio) \

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 How to pronounce circusy (audio) \ adjective

Examples of circus in a Sentence

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

Recent Examples on the Web

Once a mainstay of popular entertainment, circuses have been struggling in recent years. Brigit Katz, Smithsonian, "A German Circus Uses Stunning Holograms Instead of Live Animal Performers," 7 June 2019 Pogba is undoubtedly world class and his time in Manchester has been tainted through the circus revolving around his relationship with Jose Mourinho. SI.com, "6 of the Most Exciting Playmakers Available This Summer," 6 June 2019 Maybe that circus act played in a role in the wishful thinking with Casey. oregonlive.com, "Canzano: Pat Casey officially out and Oregon State baseball will never be the same," 4 June 2019 Premiering June 7, the sequel includes a secret mission to rescue a white tiger cub at the circus. Blake Bakkila, Good Housekeeping, "The Star-Studded Cast of 'The Secret Life of Pets 2' Has Surprising Additions," 13 May 2019 That could change with Wednesday’s hearing, which is being hyped as a blockbuster moment in the case and is sure to be a media circus. Michelle Ruiz, Vogue, "Lori Loughlin and Felicity Huffman May Finally Break Their Silence in Court Tomorrow," 2 Apr. 2019 For the last few years, former chief executive Brian Krzanich’s keynotes at the Consumer Electronics Show were a circus of drones and sensors. Mark Hachman, PCWorld, "Intel makes Bob Swan its permanent CEO, maintaining a slow, steady course away from the PC," 31 Jan. 2019 This is a circus; the consequences will extend long past my nomination. Fox News, "Brit Hume on fallout from Kavanaugh hearing; Alan Dershowitz on Rachel Mitchell's performance," 28 Sep. 2018 Trump's speech will be covered like some combination of a circus and a political death match, devoid of substance and allowing lies to flow freely, as sagely predicted by former CNN anchor Soledad O'Brien. Michelle Ruiz, Vogue, "Why You Shouldn't Watch Trump's Oval Office Address Tonight," 8 Jan. 2019

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

13 Jun 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 How to pronounce circus (audio) \

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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