circus

noun, often attributive cir·cus \ ˈsər-kəs \
Updated on: 8 Nov 2017

Definition of circus

1 a :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
2 a :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
3 a obsolete :circle, ring
b British :a usually circular area at an intersection of streets

circusy

play \-kə-sē\ adjective

Examples of circus in a Sentence

  1. He worked for a small circus.

  2. We're going to the circus.

Recent Examples of circus from the Web

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.

Origin and Etymology of circus

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


CIRCUS Defined for English Language Learners

circus

noun

Definition of circus for English Language Learners

  • : a traveling show that is often performed in a tent and that typically includes trained animals, clowns, acrobats, etc.

  • : a situation or event that is very busy, lively, and confusing and that attracts a lot of attention

  • : a circular area where several streets meet


CIRCUS Defined for Kids

circus

noun cir·cus \ ˈsər-kəs \

Definition of circus for Students

: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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to praise usually to excess

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