three-ring circus

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three-ring circus

A chaotic situation, often one in which a lot of activity is occurring simultaneously. I felt like I was in a three-ring circus when I babysat my neighbor's three noisy, mischievous children. Without the boss around, the business quickly devolved into a three-ring circus.
See also: circus

three-ring circus

A situation of complete confusion, as in It was a three-ring circus, with the baby crying, the dog barking, both telephones ringing, and someone at the front door . This term alludes to a circus where three rings or arenas are featuring performances simultaneously. Perhaps invented by show business impresario P.T. Barnum, the term was extended to other confused situations by about 1900.
See also: circus

a three-ring circus

AMERICAN
If you describe a situation as a three-ring circus, you mean there is a lot of noisy or confused activity. Grief was a private thing, not something to be turned into a three-ring circus by over-eager reporters. Cooking needn't be a three-ring circus of sweat and tears.
See also: circus

a three-ring circus

1 a circus with three rings for simultaneous performances. 2 a public spectacle, especially one with little substance.
2 1998 Spectator Along the way, these meetings have lost all that might have made them worthwhile…and have turned into a travelling three-ring circus.
See also: circus
References in periodicals archive ?
com)-- Not a 3-Ring Circus, but a 3D Experiential Extravaganza On Tap for Oct.
9 -- What better way to prep for my stint with the mandatory media 3-ring circus as my film gets ready for release early next year, than by ranting at the media?
After I'd replied "If I was half a man I'd be IN a circus," I realised that marriage was a 3-ring circus - Engagement ring, Wedding Ring, SufferRING
The largest newcomer this year is 3-Ring Circus ($49.
The frenetic nature of today's market activity gives the current business all the appeal and character of a 3-ring circus," Weissman said.