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1. noun A large tent at a circus under which the main attractions are featured. Used figuratively to refer to the location where a primary or major event, show, or attraction is held, often in the phrase "under the big top." The headline bands are performing under the big top at the music festival this weekend.
2. adjective Featured as the primary or major event, attraction, show, etc. Often hyphenated. The big-top match in boxing this weekend will be the fight between the reigning champion and the underdog newcomer.
Farlex Dictionary of Idioms. © 2015 Farlex, Inc, all rights reserved.
1. The main tent of a circus, as in The high-wire act is almost always in the big top. [c. 1840]
2. Underworld slang for a maximum-security prison, as in He was sentenced to ten years in the big top. [1950s]
The American Heritage® Dictionary of Idioms by Christine Ammer. Copyright © 2003, 1997 by The Christine Ammer 1992 Trust. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.
1. n. a circus tent; the circus, in general. And now, one of the greatest acts under the big top.
2. mod. having to do with the circus. One big top experience is enough to last me a lifetime.
McGraw-Hill's Dictionary of American Slang and Colloquial Expressions Copyright © 2006 by The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc. All rights reserved.