side·​show | \ ˈsīd-ˌshō How to pronounce sideshow (audio) \

Definition of sideshow

1 : a minor show offered in addition to a main exhibition (as of a circus)
2 : an incidental diversion or spectacle

Examples of sideshow in a Sentence

Their disagreement is just a political sideshow when compared to the real issues at hand.

Recent Examples on the Web

New York When Michael Cohen testified before the House Oversight Committee last month, the most dramatic moment was a sideshow in which the protagonist—Lynne Patton, a supporter of President Trump—remained silent. Jillian Kay Melchior, WSJ, "Meet the Woman Rashida Tlaib Called a ‘Prop’," 29 Mar. 2019 The note sale has unfolded as a sideshow within the Sears bankruptcy as the company races to avert a liquidation of hundreds of remaining Sears and Kmart locations. Andrew Scurria, WSJ, "Sears Swap Holders Make Peace With $82.5 Million Cyrus Deal," 2 Jan. 2019 Maybe if Arnold turns the end of a presidency into just as big of a sideshow as its birth was, everything will revert to normal. Todd Vanderwerff, Vox, "The Hunt for the Trump Tapes with Tom Arnold, explained," 18 Sep. 2018 For collectors and students of the Beatles’ music, the remix is a sideshow; the real interest is in the extras. Allan Kozinn, WSJ, "The Beatles’ Big Ideas Turn 50," 9 Nov. 2018 That’s especially evident when lawmakers can’t agree upon what’s wrong in the first place, and many seem intent on focusing on political agendas and headline-making sideshows instead of drilling down on the issues that matter. Emily Stewart, Vox, "There are lots of reasons to worry about Google. Congress just picked the wrong one.," 12 Dec. 2018 Though ostensibly a sideshow from tournament play, marquee exhibitions are ingrained in the history of golf. Brian Costa, WSJ, "Tiger and Phil’s Biggest Bet: Viewers Will Pay," 21 Nov. 2018 And this no-confidence vote is really a sideshow to the main event: the debate over May’s Brexit deal. Jen Kirby, Vox, "British Prime Minister Theresa May survives no-confidence vote," 12 Dec. 2018 For the boys, mostly teenagers, the Musk controversy is not even a sideshow. Fox News, "Thai cave story moves to Bangkok mall with boys taking stage," 6 Sep. 2018

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'sideshow.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

See More

First Known Use of sideshow

1846, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about sideshow

Statistics for sideshow

Last Updated

10 Apr 2019

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for sideshow

The first known use of sideshow was in 1846

See more words from the same year

Keep scrolling for more

More Definitions for sideshow



English Language Learners Definition of sideshow

: a smaller show that is performed in addition to a main show
: an activity or event that is less important than the main activity or event


side·​show | \ ˈsīd-ˌshō How to pronounce sideshow (audio) \

Kids Definition of sideshow

: a small show off to the side of a main show or exhibition (as of a circus)

Keep scrolling for more

More from Merriam-Webster on sideshow

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with sideshow

Spanish Central: Translation of sideshow

Nglish: Translation of sideshow for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of sideshow for Arabic Speakers Encyclopedia article about sideshow

Comments on sideshow

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


having no equal

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

Words from Greek and Latin Quiz

  • roman forum
  • Which of the following months comes from a Latin word for “ten”?
True or False

Test your knowledge - and maybe learn something along the way.


Test Your Knowledge - and learn some interesting things along the way.

Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!