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From Latin circus ‎(ring, circle), from Proto-Indo-European *sker, *ker ‎(to turn, to bend).[1][2]



circus ‎(plural circuses)

  1. A traveling company of performers that may include acrobats, clowns, trained animals, and other novelty acts, that gives shows usually in a circular tent.
    The circus will be in town next week.
  2. A round open space in a town or city where multiple streets meet.
    Oxford Circus in London is at the north end of Regent Street.
  3. (figuratively) A spectacle; a noisy fuss.
    • 2009, Christine Brooks, A Quiet Village (page 81)
      The village would be turned into a circus over this. He groaned, it was just the sort of case the media had a field day over. He had to get the whole thing sorted fast before anyone got wind of it.
  4. (historical) In the ancient Roman Empire, a building for chariot racing.
  5. (military, World War II) 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.
    • RAF Web - Air of Authority
      ... the squadron (No. 452) moved to Kenley in July 1941 and took part in the usual round of Circus, Rhubarb and Ramrod missions.
  6. (obsolete) Circuit; space; enclosure.
    • Byron
      The narrow circus of my dungeon wall.

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  1. ^ A grammar of modern Indo-European, p. 398, 3rd paragraph
  2. ^ The American heritage dictionary of Indo-European roots, p. 78, entry for "(s)ker-3



From Ancient Greek κίρκος ‎(kírkos, circle, ring), related with κρίκος ‎(kríkos, ring).



circus m ‎(genitive circī); second declension

  1. a circular line or orbit; circle, ring
  2. a racecourse or space where games are held, especially one that is round
  3. the spectators in a circus; a circus


Second declension.

Case Singular Plural
nominative circus circī
genitive circī circōrum
dative circō circīs
accusative circum circōs
ablative circō circīs
vocative circe circī

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