Try Our Apps


Avoid these words. Seriously.

three-ring circus

or three-ringed circus

[three-ring] /ˈθriˌrɪŋ/
a circus having three adjacent rings in which performances take place simultaneously.
something spectacular, tumultuous, entertaining, or full of confused action:
Our family reunions are always three-ring circuses.
Origin of three-ring circus
An Americanism dating back to 1880-85 Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018.
Cite This Source
Examples from the Web for three-ring circus
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • Though she loved the girl as her own, there were times when she felt that running a three-ring circus would be much easier.

    Hoofbeats on the Turnpike Mildred A. Wirt
  • She drew up close to one wall and watched; she might have been an excited child at a three-ring circus.

    Daughter of the Sun

    Jackson Gregory
  • With all the activities of the school taking place at once, we were as excited as two boys seeing their first three-ring circus.

    High Adventure James Norman Hall
  • They had a gang of stevedores working there clock-like, as those fellows work around the big tents of a three-ring circus.

    The Modern Railroad Edward Hungerford
  • He is a three-ring circus and concert all by himself, but he doesn't know it, and that's what makes him so good.

    Old Man Curry

    Charles E. (Charles Emmett) Van Loan
British Dictionary definitions for three-ring circus

three-ring circus

noun (US & Canadian)
a circus with three rings in which separate performances are carried on simultaneously
a situation of confusion, characterized by a bewildering variety of events or activities
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
Cite This Source
Idioms and Phrases with three-ring circus

three-ring circus

A situation of complete confusion, as in It was a three-ring circus, with the baby crying, the dog barking, both telephones ringing, and someone at the front door. This term alludes to a circus where three rings or arenas are featuring performances simultaneously. Perhaps invented by show business impresario P.T. Barnum, the term was extended to other confused situations by about 1900.
The American Heritage® Idioms Dictionary
Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.
Cite This Source

Word of the Day

Nearby words for three-ring circus

Word Value for three

Scrabble Words With Friends