circus

noun

cir·​cus ˈsər-kəs How to pronounce circus (audio)
often attributive
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 adjective

Examples of circus in a Sentence

He worked for a small circus. We're going to the circus.
Recent Examples on the Web The circus is slated to move on to National City from Feb. 16 to March 4 and to Mission Valley from March 8-31. Linda McIntosh, San Diego Union-Tribune, 2 Feb. 2024 In 2013, Swift appeared in the middle of a white, red and black circus. Bryan West, USA TODAY, 1 Feb. 2024 His adventures take him to the circus, the Army, the depths of the sea, and the afterlife in this impressive Oscar-winning masterpiece. Danny Horn, EW.com, 31 Jan. 2024 The truck was heading to Fort Wayne, where the circus was performing Saturday night at the Fort Wayne Coliseum, Glass said. John Tuohy, The Indianapolis Star, 27 Jan. 2024 The truck was likely heading to Fort Wayne, where the circus was performing Saturday night at the Fort Wayne Coliseum, Glass said. John Tuohy, The Enquirer, 27 Jan. 2024 The media circus that has accompanied Ohtani’s arrival, however, hasn’t exactly been received the same. Jack Harris, Los Angeles Times, 10 Feb. 2024 Moved indoors because of a blizzard, the game, a precursor to the annual championship now known as the Super Bowl, was played in front of about 11,000 people on a 60-yard field using dirt and manure left over from a traveling circus. Ira Boudway, Fortune, 9 Feb. 2024 His son recalled those times while speaking at Monday night’s media circus on the Allegiant Stadium field. Cam Inman, The Mercury News, 7 Feb. 2024 See More

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'circus.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History

Etymology

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

First Known Use

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

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

Dictionary Entries Near circus

Cite this Entry

“Circus.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/circus. Accessed 1 Mar. 2024.

Kids Definition

circus

noun
cir·​cus ˈsər-kəs How to pronounce circus (audio)
1
: a large arena enclosed by rows of seats (as in ancient Rome)
2
a
: a show that usually travels from place to place and that has a variety of exhibitions including acrobatic feats, wild animal displays, and performances by clowns
b
: a circus performance
c
: the performers and equipment of such a circus
d
: something that suggests a circus
Etymology

from Latin circus "circle, arena"

More from Merriam-Webster on circus

Last Updated: - Updated example sentences
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