noun, plural cir·cus·es.
- 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.
Origin of circus
Examples from the Web for circus
It helps that the circus is like a family—only one that can choose its members.
The circus is now performing 18 shows around the world, with eight performances in Las Vegas alone each night.
In 1870, the very Germanically-named August Ruengling fixed a harness for a circus rider and obtained free passes for his family.
Circus parades often became as large a sight as the performance itself; one Barnum and Bailey parade stretched for three miles.
The modern era of the circus is inseparable from several names you may have encountered.
Crossing the square where the Tacon theatre and circus stand, I wander through the narrow, ill-paved streets of the Cuban capital.The Pearl of the Antilles, or An Artist in Cuba|Walter Goodman
The circus was about breaking up for the night, and the great tent was buzzing and resounding with noise.The Rival Campers Ashore|Ruel Perley Smith
And though he whined and begged to be taken to the circus, Farmer Green caught hold of his collar and led him into the barn.The Tale of Old Dog Spot|Arthur Scott Bailey
If he can flourish a whip like a true ringmaster in the circus, the interest of the game will be enhanced.Games for the Playground, Home, School and Gymnasium|Jessie H. Bancroft
The rest of the time he could eat or sleep, except when the circus moved from place to place.Tum Tum, the Jolly Elephant|Richard Barnum
British Dictionary definitions for circus
noun plural -cuses
- an open-air stadium, usually oval or oblong, for chariot races or public games
- the games themselves
- an open place, usually circular, in a town, where several streets converge
- (capital when part of a name)Piccadilly Circus
Word Origin for circus
Word Origin and History for circus
late 14c., in reference to ancient Rome, from Latin circus "ring, circular line," which was applied by Romans to circular arenas for performances and contests and oval courses for racing (especially the Circus Maximus), from or cognate with Greek kirkos "a circle, a ring," from PIE *kirk- from root *(s)ker- "to turn, bend" (see ring (n.)).
In reference to modern large arenas for performances from 1791; sense then extended to the performing company, hence "traveling show" (originally traveling circus, 1838). Extended in World War I to squadrons of military aircraft. Meaning "lively uproar, chaotic hubbub" is from 1869. Sense in Picadilly Circus and other place names is from early 18c. sense "buildings arranged in a ring," also "circular road." The adjective form is circensian.
Idioms and Phrases with circus
see three-ring circus.