Definition of freak show in US English:

freak show


  • 1A sideshow at a fair, featuring abnormally developed people or animals.

    • ‘These are the facts as we know them: In 1810, a woman from Southern African's Khoisan tribe was brought to England by two white men and put on display in a freak show at 225 Piccadilly, London.’
    • ‘The wider argument is that as the freak show went out of business, its imagery spread through literature, film and the visual arts.’
    • ‘If there was ever any value in freak shows it was as an example of how not to treat disabled people.’
    • ‘The result is a rich and varied cultural history of freak shows and their complex role within literary and visual modernity.’
    • ‘Last time I watched it, I had a dream that she shot all you guys and then sold me to a freak show.’
    • ‘The freak show implicitly situated the viewer in a particular relationship to its content; however the response of actual spectators did not always conform to structural expectations.’
    • ‘When people want to get a picture of me, it actually makes me feel like I'm in a freak show, like all I am is some thing.’
    • ‘The trio is sidetracked on their journey when Julie spots garishly painted roadside billboards for a freak show and insists they check it out.’
    • ‘The freak show institution allowed circusgoers the pleasures of looking at freaks and being fascinated with them, but they were also protected from feeling guilty about it.’
    • ‘By the 1940s freak shows were considered distasteful and morally unacceptable and the acts slowly began to disappear.’
    • ‘‘I probably look like something from a freak show,’ He thought with a small scoff, letting his head droop forwards as his mom wheeled him from the room.’
    • ‘Monsters, nonetheless, flourished in popular literature and freak shows up through the 19th century.’
    • ‘With his orphaned son in hand, Trewley sets off into the murky depths of London and the freak show where he discovers the Elephant Woman.’
    • ‘Based on a Victorian freak show the ‘Carnies’ (from carnivals) staged an alternative ‘Unfairground’ with attractions on the theme of pain.’
    • ‘And if this has pleased the socially-conscious, it has deeply offended many freak show performers.’
    • ‘Neither you nor I wish to show ourselves off there like two animals on a freak show in a circus.’
    • ‘When others speak for the disabled, they often point the way to the freak show and the medical theater, two arenas of human objectification.’
    • ‘She continued shouting, ‘You're sick and twisted and you belong in a freak show at the carnival where people can watch you for a price!’’
    • ‘He addresses the crowd in Irish, denouncing the deceptions of the freak show and its owner; a riot breaks out and the show is destroyed, but he himself escapes by train - back to London.’
    • ‘Someone would give him multimillions to play 18 months, three nights a week in Vegas, play for tourists, play your hits, you know, part freak show, part musical revue.’
    1. 1.1 An unusual or grotesque event viewed for pleasure, especially when in bad taste.
      • ‘I trotted back to the living room to watch the freak show.’
      • ‘If you're like 99 out of 100 bodybuilders, you'd most likely roll up your sleeve, raise your better arm, and flex your gun for all you're worth in an attempt to astonish the person who had requested the freak show.’
      • ‘The punch-up was first of all a media event, a freak show.’
      • ‘Granted, it's not the sort of thing to simply convert into a freak show or horror fest as, whether you or I believe or not, others do believe and their emotions and deep feelings of loss are not to be tossed aside blithely.’
      • ‘If we don't keep drugs out of these events, they become freak shows, the athletes like gladiators - with us playing the role of decadent Romans, urging them on.’
      • ‘It's this arrogance or, really, out-of-touchness, this particular sociopathology, that helps create the freak show.’
      • ‘It's a freakshow that's also a mirror pointed at the universal freak show that lurks under all our skins.’
      • ‘Unable to compete in the known categories of news, analysis, commentary, and opinion, the news channel created a freak show as its signature offering.’
      • ‘And in the freak show that the presidential election is shaping up as, who is to say which freak will end up first in show?’
      • ‘In a world where pop-star pedophilia has replaced terrorist bombings as front-page fodder, there's no need for a real costume - society is enough of a freak show as it is.’
      • ‘But while the sport has been transformed in the last five years, you still find people treating our event as a freak show or a catwalk.’


freak show

/ˈfrēk ˌSHō//ˈfrik ˌʃoʊ/