- in ancient Rome, an oval or oblong arena with tiers of seats around it, used as for games or chariot races
- a similar arena, often enclosed in a tent or building for performances by acrobats, trained animals, clowns, etc.
- a traveling show of this sort or its personnel, equipment, etc.
- the performance of such a show
- Brit. a circular open place where many streets come together: used esp. in place names
- ☆ Informal anything thought of as being like a circus, as an event, place, or activity that is riotously entertaining, spectacular, frenzied, disorganized, etc.: a media circus
Origin of circusClassical Latin a circle, ring, racecourse ; from or akin to Classical Greek kirkos, a circle ; from Indo-European an unverified form kirk- ; from base an unverified form (s)ker-, to turn, bend from source Classical Greek korōnos and amp; Classical Latin curvus, curved
- a. A public entertainment consisting typically of a variety of performances by acrobats, clowns, and trained animals.b. A traveling company that performs such entertainments.c. A circular arena, surrounded by tiers of seats and often covered by a tent, in which such shows are performed.
- A roofless oval enclosure surrounded by tiers of seats that was used in antiquity for public spectacles.
- Chiefly British An open circular place where several streets intersect.
- Informal Something suggestive of a circus, as in frenetic activity or noisy disorder: “I was amazed at the amount of hubbub in the lobby &ellipsis; it was a circus. The check-in area brought to mind a mustering station on a foundering cruise ship” (Bill Bryson).
Origin of circusMiddle English, round arena, from Latin, circus, circle; see circle.
- A traveling company of performers that may include acrobats, clowns, trained animals, and other novelty acts, that gives shows usually in a circular tent.
- The circus will be in town next week.
- A round open space in a town or city where multiple streets meet.
- Oxford Circus in London is at the north end of Regent Street.
- (historical) In the ancient Roman Empire, a building for chariot racing.
- (military, World War II) A code name for bomber attacks with fighter escorts in the day time. The attacks were against short-range targets with the intention of occupying enemy fighters and keeping their fighter units in the area concerned.