a three-ring circus

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

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 ?
They have discovered through their market research that families felt like their lives were already a three-ring circus,'' she said.
One absurd scene followed another--the effect was like a ringleader trying to contain the chaos of a three-ring circus.
But it's presenting the show, being recorded in Culver City on June 3, she's most looking forward to: "The MTV Movie Awards is like a three-ring circus and I'm thrilled they asked me to be this year's ringmaster," she claims.
Five rings symbolize the Olympics, but hosting them has largely been a three-ring circus.
In this scaled-down production, bright ladders and streamers suggest a three-ring circus, and the players are in the audiences members' laps (literally, for one unlucky woman).
Acrobats, tightrope walkers, lions, horses, snakes, a ringmaster, the Moor, and, of course, the puppet clown, Petrouchka, fill the stage with the excitement and magic or a three-ring circus.