clown car

Definition of clown car

  1. 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 Stevens, The New York Times, 1 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 Turque, The Washington Post, 21 May 2013 This movie is quickly becoming a clown car of comic book characters. — Tony Hicks, The Contra Costa (California) Times, 20 Dec. 2013

  2. 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 Harless, Horsepower War, 2004 … 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 McKibben, American Prospect, October 2005

Love words? You must — there are over 200,000 words in our free online dictionary, but you are looking for one that’s only in the Merriam-Webster Unabridged Dictionary.

Join MWU now and get access to America’s largest dictionary, with:

  • 300,000 words that aren't in our free dictionary
  • Expanded definitions, etymologies, and usage notes
  • Advanced search features
  • Ad free!


First Known Use of clown car


Seen and Heard

What made you want to look up clown car? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


quaintly unconventional or refined

Get Word of the Day daily email!