Definitions

from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

  • n. A public entertainment consisting typically of a variety of performances by acrobats, clowns, and trained animals.
  • n. A traveling company that performs such entertainments.
  • n. A circular arena, surrounded by tiers of seats and often covered by a tent, in which such shows are performed.
  • n. A roofless oval enclosure surrounded by tiers of seats that was used in antiquity for public spectacles.
  • n. Chiefly British An open circular place where several streets intersect.
  • n. Informal Something suggestive of a circus, as in frenetic activity or noisy disorder: "The city is a circus of the senses” ( William H. Gass).

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • n. A traveling company of performers that may include acrobats, clowns, trained animals, and other novelty acts, that gives shows usually in a circular tent.
  • n. A round open space in a town or city where multiple streets meet.
  • n. In the ancient Roman Empire, a building for chariot racing.
  • n. A code name for bomber attacks with fighter escorts in the day time. The attacks were against short-range targets with the intention of occupying enemy fighters and keeping their fighter units in the area concerned.
  • n. Circuit; space; enclosure.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • n. A level oblong space surrounded on three sides by seats of wood, earth, or stone, rising in tiers one above another, and divided lengthwise through the middle by a barrier around which the track or course was laid out. It was used for chariot races, games, and public shows.
  • n. A circular inclosure for the exhibition of feats of horsemanship, acrobatic displays, etc. Also, the company of performers, with their equipage.
  • n. Circuit; space; inclosure.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • n. In Roman antiquity, a large, oblong, roofless inclosure, used especially for horse- and chariot-races.
  • n. In modern times, a place of amusement where feats of horsemanship and acrobatic displays form the principal entertainment; the company of performers in such a place, with their equipage; the entertainment given.
  • n. In England, the space formed at the intersection of two streets by making the buildings at the angles concave, so as to give the intervening space the form of a circle: as, Oxford Circus, Regent Circus, in London.
  • n. An inclosed space of any kind; a circuit.
  • n. [capitalized] In ornithology, a genus of diurnal birds of prey, the harriers, typical of the subfamily Circinæ (which see)

from WordNet 3.0 Copyright 2006 by Princeton University. All rights reserved.

  • n. an arena consisting of an oval or circular area enclosed by tiers of seats and usually covered by a tent
  • n. a genus of haws comprising the harriers
  • n. a travelling company of entertainers; including trained animals
  • n. a frenetic disorganized (and often comic) disturbance suggestive of a large public entertainment
  • n. (antiquity) an open-air stadium for chariot races and gladiatorial games
  • n. a performance given by a traveling company of acrobats, clowns, and trained animals

Etymologies

Middle English, round arena, from Latin, circus, circle; see circle.
(American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition)
From Latin circus ("ring, circle"), from Proto-Indo-European *sker, *ker (“to turn, to bend”) [2]. (Wiktionary)

Examples

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  • circular arenas for performances

    June 19, 2007