Definition of circus in English:

circus

noun

  • 1A traveling company of acrobats, clowns, and other entertainers which gives performances, typically in a large tent, in a series of different places.

    as modifier ‘a circus elephant’
    • ‘But, unlike the old circus shows with their clowns and candyfloss, this performance is governed by a sophisticated theatrical sensibility.’
    • ‘Later he was a road labourer and a wrestler in travelling circuses.’
    • ‘Time had eroded all things: the circus tents, the faces of young performers, the swiftness of reactions and the size of audiences.’
    • ‘Maybe he and his niece could join a traveling circus to get by.’
    • ‘A jazz trio will play and there will be a magician and circus performer.’
    • ‘They probably give thanks every day that they haven't been carted off to perform in some travelling circus and can just graze away in this beautifully quiet corner of the world.’
    • ‘She has returned to the ring, though - supporting the circus clown's act.’
    • ‘The circus, the nomadic tent show of breathtaking performances, is on.’
    • ‘You are distracted by acrobats and circus performers and watch little chubby cheeked children clapping their hands with sheer joy.’
    • ‘I just can't get enough of shows performed in circus tents.’
    • ‘Perhaps the most excitement was caused by the circus coming to town, however.’
    • ‘As usual, a circus troupe has pitched its tent in the Festival City in view of the vacation.’
    • ‘Bizarrely, traveling circuses are exempt from the restriction.’
    • ‘We're a circus troupe, aren't we?’
    • ‘The three-ring circus is made up of around 180 performers and 80 animals.’
    • ‘The travelling circus goes to Barcelona in Spain for the fifth round of the championship.’
    • ‘He heard the complaints that he sometimes came across as too dour and awkward and while that rankled, he always insisted he was there to manage a football team not entertain like a circus clown.’
    • ‘A travelling circus has been destroyed by last weekend's gusty weather just days after its opening night in Swindon.’
    • ‘Often, I feel a bit like a high-wire circus performer working without a net.’
    • ‘It's all quite a long way removed from the life he and his father once knew, as entertainers in a travelling circus.’
    1. 1.1informal A large group of people travelling together on the circuit of a particular high-profile activity.
      ‘the Formula One circus’
      • ‘So the F1 circus has now moved across the Atlantic to the Gilles Villeneuve circuit in Canada.’
      • ‘So it is back to Italy for the F1 circus this weekend.’
      • ‘The media was pleased to receive the calendar for next year's F1 circus nice and early.’
      • ‘More attractions will be opening up as the NFL circus travels around the country.’
      • ‘The traveling circus known as pro tennis arrived on the outskirts of London on June 23.’
    2. 1.2informal A public scene of frenetic and noisily intrusive activity.
      ‘a media circus’
      • ‘But she was not willing to live under this media circus tent for the sake of a job.’
      • ‘I'll never forget the media circus that followed.’
      • ‘While the circus surrounding free agents is going on, the draft process continues at full speed.’
      • ‘His family had initially claimed it was not possible to hold a ceremony due to the media circus following their every movement.’
      • ‘What was the media circus like at the scene in Colorado?’
      • ‘The whole circus happening around my vehicle puts a smile on my face.’
      • ‘With just 270 bedrooms on site, the media circus of several thousand will have to be housed as much as 50 miles away.’
      • ‘So it's become a three-ring circus in terms of lawsuits.’
      • ‘Spare us the circus of long public trials, say the letters to the editor.’
      • ‘Let's boycott the Big Top when this media circus comes to town.’
      • ‘I am angered and appalled at the way the news media has made a circus of their portrayal of this case.’
      • ‘Needless to say (but I'll say it all the same), the ensuing trial was a media circus.’
      • ‘Sheltered from reality in the public circus, these people seriously believed that their complicated jargon would be understood by the average shmuck on the street.’
      • ‘It just shows up the frayed edges and leaves the poor unfortunate drained and often humiliated by the experience as the media circus moves on to its next victim.’
      • ‘Members of the media circus are frustrated already.’
      • ‘Surely they're not sick of the media circus already?’
      • ‘I wrote him a letter, and I apologized for the media circus, because I hadn't intended it.’
      • ‘Here he is trying to make his way through the media circus.’
      • ‘It would be ridiculous to expect such a circus to settle major public issues.’
      • ‘But the Congressman's lawyer says this whole thing has become a media circus and a tabloid frenzy.’
  • 2(in ancient Rome) a rounded or oblong arena lined with tiers of seats, used for equestrian and other sports and games.

    • ‘The circle is the defining motif of the Frénouse, a shape that haunted Tatin, from his early obsession with the enclosed ring of the circus, to his adolescent observation of planets.’
    • ‘By the 4th century A.D., nearly 177 days per year were devoted to the Games, held at the circus.’
  • 3British (in place names) a rounded open space in a city where several streets converge.

    ‘Piccadilly Circus’
    • ‘The new civic space - the Circus - will provide the focal point and is described by developers as ‘an oasis of calm in the city centre’.’
    • ‘Tomorrow sees the Town Hall in Regent Circus host the Quiz.’
    • ‘The work will also affect Regent Circus, Clarence Street, Princes Street and Victoria Road.’
    • ‘The new department store will front on to St Botolph's Circus.’
    • ‘He said: ‘The new entrance on Queen's Circus will also improve access from the station to Battersea Park, Prince of Wales Drive, the Marco Polo building and Chelsea Bridge Wharf.’’

Origin

Late Middle English (with reference to the arena of Roman antiquity): from Latin, ‘ring or circus’. The sense ‘traveling company of performers’ dates from the late 18th century.

Pronunciation

circus

/ˈsərkəs//ˈsərkəs/