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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

bread and circuses

Things given or presented in an attempt to please (or at least distract) disgruntled people. The phrase comes from the Roman poet Juvenal. I really think this event is just bread and circuses to get us to stop protesting.
See also: and, bread, circus

like a three-ring circus

Fig. chaotic; exciting and busy. Our household is like a three-ring circus on Monday mornings. This meeting is like a three-ring circus. Quiet down and listen!
See also: circus, like

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

bread and circuses

People use bread and circuses to talk about a situation in which a government provides people with things which seem to make their lives more enjoyable in order to stop them complaining about important problems. He limited political dissent through a policy of bread and circuses backed up by a fearsome secret police. Our children and grandchildren will curse us for squandering their prosperity in exchange for today's bread and circuses. Note: This is a translation of a phrase in a satire by the Roman poet Juvenal. It refers to the fact that, in ancient Rome, the authorities provided the people with public amusements and food in order to prevent possible rebellion.
See also: and, bread, circus

a three-ring circus

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
References in periodicals archive ?
Circus, in fact, occupies a whole division of the Ministry of Culture.
It is true to say that the death of the circus would also be the death of a whole way of life.
Knie was born in Geneva,in 1920,into the fifth generation of Switzerland's premier circus dynasty, a country where people do not go to the circus but ``to the Knie''.
Meanwhile, new leadership at The Ringling embraced our circus heritage.
Boris told spectators to prepare themselves for what was to come and added: "Not many people know that 18th century London was home to modern circus and the first shopping arcades in Britain.
The current Grey Peru will be integrated into the Circus group of companies and the organization will be renamed Circus Grey.
But while the RSPCA agrees that Circus Mondao has strong views that its animals are well cared for, it stresses that it doesn't change its view that the complex needs of wild animals cannot be met in a travelling circus environment.
It's just super exciting," Rogers said of being a Circus Smirkus performer.
Tickets are selling fast in some of Scotland's big tops and even Edinburgh Festival is getting in on the act, hosting their first International Circus Festival.
The last circus to visit the Holme Valley town was the now-defunct Chipperfields Circus in 1994.
Highly advanced circus skills, including acrobatics, hula hoop and trapeze, are fused with comedy, theatre and clowning to create world-class contemporary circus theatre.
Keeleri Kunhikkannan, known as the father of the Indian circus, is from Thalassery and established first circus institute in Kerala and the second of its kind in India in 1901.
There's glamour, danger, comedy and lots and lots of fun on offer as the Netherlands National Circus heads to Coventry.
Over decades, Egyptian filmmakers used to portray the circus artist as a poor guy who struggles with his family to earn his daily living under cruel life circumstances.
JEDDAH: Jeddah has now witnessed two international circuses with the Italian Belucci Circus witnessing more than 18,000 visitors of different nationalities in past 10 days starting July 18 with the beginning of the 36th Jeddah festival.