a minor show or exhibition in connection with a principal one, as at a circus.
any subordinate event or matter.

Origin of sideshow

An Americanism dating back to 1840–50 Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Related Words for sideshow


Examples from the Web for sideshow

Contemporary Examples of sideshow

Historical Examples of sideshow

  • I haven't had a better one since I went to the sideshow at the circus.

    Cap'n Dan's Daughter

    Joseph C. Lincoln

  • I have wondered sometimes if it were a seat in a sideshow which she had designed for me.

    A Labrador Doctor

    Wilfred Thomason Grenfell

  • A library of trivia, museum of curiosa, sideshow of freaks, and shrine of greatness.

    The Short Life

    Francis Donovan

  • The sideshow got a dime of hers before the big show started and again after it ended.

    Back Home

    Irvin S. Cobb

  • It was all like a county fair of Iowa, only more dignified, with no touch of sideshow.

British Dictionary definitions for sideshow



a small show or entertainment offered in conjunction with a larger attraction, as at a circus or fair
a subordinate event or incident
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

Word Origin and History for sideshow

also side-show, 1855, "minor exhibition alongside or near a principal one," apparently a coinage of P.T. Barnum's, from side (adj.) + show (n.). Hence, any diversion or distracting event.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper