- a travelling company of entertainers such as acrobats, clowns, trapeze artistes, and trained animals
- a public performance given by such a company
- an oval or circular arena, usually tented and surrounded by tiers of seats, in which such a performance is held
- a travelling group of professional sportsmen: a cricket circus
- (in ancient Rome) an open-air stadium, usually oval or oblong, for chariot races or public games
- the games themselves
- Brit an open place, usually circular, in a town, where several streets converge
- (capital when part of a name): Piccadilly Circus
- informal noisy or rowdy behaviour
- informal a person or group of people whose behaviour is wild, disorganized, or (esp unintentionally) comic
WordReference Random House Learner's Dictionary of American English © 2019
- a large public show featuring performing animals, clowns, etc.:tickets to the circus.
- Ancient History, Antiquity(in ancient Rome)
- a large, usually
U-shaped or oval open-air enclosure surrounded by rising rows of seats, for chariot races, etc.
- a large, usually
- British TermsBrit. an open circle or plaza where several streets come together:Piccadilly Circus.
- a display of uncontrolled or wild activity:The meeting soon turned into a circus.
adj. [before a noun]
- noisy, wild, or uncontrolled:The quiet class had degenerated into a circus atmosphere.
- a large public entertainment, typically presented in one or more very large tents or in an outdoor or indoor arena, featuring exhibitions of pageantry, feats of skill and daring, performing animals, etc., interspersed throughout with the slapstick antics of clowns. Cf. big top.
- a troupe of performers, esp. a traveling troupe, that presents such entertainments, together with officials, other employees, and the company's performing animals, traveling wagons, tents, cages, and equipment.
- a circular arena surrounded by tiers of seats, in which public entertainments are held;
- Ancient History(in ancient Rome)
- a large, usually oblong or oval, roofless enclosure, surrounded by tiers of seats rising one above another, for chariot races, public games, etc.
- an entertainment given in this Roman arena, as a chariot race or public game:The Caesars appeased the public with bread and circuses.
- anything resembling the Roman circus, or arena, as a natural amphitheater or a circular range of houses.
- See flying circus.
- British Termsan open circle, square, or plaza where several streets converge:Piccadilly Circus.
- fun, excitement, or uproar;
a display of rowdy sport.
- [Obs.]a circlet or ring.
- Latin: circular region of the sky, oval space in which games were held, akin to (or borrowed from) Greek kírkos ring, circle
- Middle English 1350–1400