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.
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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.
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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

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.
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bread and circuses

material benefits and entertainment employed by rulers or political parties to keep the masses happy and docile.
Bread and circuses is a translation of the Latin phrase panem et circenses , which appeared in Juvenal's Satires, and which alludes to the Roman emperors' organization of grain handouts and gladiatorial games for the populace.
See also: and, bread, 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