clown car

Definition of clown car

1 :a small car used in a circus act during which an implausibly large number of clowns emerge from the car for humorous effect
  • A Toyota Corolla, which had screeched to a halt in front of the church just moments before, looked like a clown car as a surprising number of people piled out …
  • —Kimberly StevensThe New York Times1 Aug. 1999
often used figuratively in reference to a thing or situation that seems surprisingly overcrowded or too full
  • The project's cast of managers looked like an interagency clown car.
  • —Marc Fisher and Bill TurqueThe Washington Post21 May 2013
  • This movie is quickly becoming a clown car of comic book characters.
  • —Tony HicksThe Contra Costa (California) Times20 Dec. 2013
2 informal + disparaging :a small car
  • But in the 1980's the Japanese models grew from cute little clown cars to solid, quiet, and most importantly, dependable beasts of burden.
  • —Robert HarlessHorsepower War2004
  • … the fear that anyone advocating real action will be accused of wanting to reduce living standards and forcing Americans to drive teeny-tiny clown cars.
  • —Bill McKibbenAmerican ProspectOctober 2005

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to praise usually to excess

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