- 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 circusL, 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 kor?nos and Classical Latin curvus, curved