Definition of circus in English:


Syllabification: cir·cus
Pronunciation: /ˈsərkəs

noun (plural circuses)

  • 1A traveling company of acrobats, trained animals, and clowns that gives performances, typically in a large tent, in a series of different places: [as modifier]: a circus elephant
    More example sentences
    • It's all quite a long way removed from the life he and his father once knew, as entertainers in a travelling circus.
    • 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.
    • I just can't get enough of shows performed in circus tents.
  • 1.1(In ancient Rome) a rounded or oblong arena lined with tiers of seats, used for equestrian and other sports and games.
    More example sentences
    • By the 4th century A.D., nearly 177 days per year were devoted to the Games, held at the circus.
    • 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.
  • 1.2 informal A large group of people travelling together on the circuit of a particular high-profile activity: the Formula One circus
    More example sentences
    • 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.
    • So the F1 circus has now moved across the Atlantic to the Gilles Villeneuve circuit in Canada.
  • 1.3 informal A public scene of frenetic and noisily intrusive activity: a media circus
    More example sentences
    • What was the media circus like at the scene in Colorado?
    • But the Congressman's lawyer says this whole thing has become a media circus and a tabloid frenzy.
    • Spare us the circus of long public trials, say the letters to the editor.
    (a) turmoil, chaos, a zoo, bedlam, mayhem, pandemonium
  • 2British (In place names) a rounded open space in a city where several streets converge: Piccadilly Circus
    More example sentences
    • Tomorrow sees the Town Hall in Regent Circus host the Quiz.
    • 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’.
    • The work will also affect Regent Circus, Clarence Street, Princes Street and Victoria Road.


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.

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Pronunciation: ˌkələrəˈto͝orə
elaborate ornamentation of a vocal melody