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

Totally chaotic, frenetic, and wild. I babysat my neighbor's two young children the other evening, and it was like a three-ring circus in there! The company has been like a three-ring circus without the boss around to keep things in order.
See also: circus, like

not my circus, not my monkeys

This troublesome, burdensome, or volatile situation is none of my concern, and thus I refuse to get involved in it. A loan translation of the Polish idiom nie mój cyrk, nie moje malpy. When asked whether she would involve the state's law enforcement agents in the operation, the governor replied, "Not my circus, not my monkeys." A: "Don't you think we should try to help him fix the problem." B: "He's the one who caused it to begin with. Not my circus, not my monkeys."
See also: monkey, not

not your circus, not your monkeys

This situation is not something that you need to know about or be involved with; it's none of your business. An extension of the phrase "not my circus, not my monkeys," a loan translation of the Polish idiom nie mój cyrk, nie moje malpy. A: "Who was that guy who was in your office just now? Is everything all right?" B: "Not your circus, not your monkeys, OK?" Look, I appreciate your offer to help, I really do, but let me just deal with this on my own. Not your circus, not your monkeys!
See also: monkey, not

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
Farlex Dictionary of Idioms. © 2015 Farlex, Inc, all rights reserved.

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
McGraw-Hill Dictionary of American Idioms and Phrasal Verbs. © 2002 by The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc.

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
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.

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.
See also: circus
Collins COBUILD Idioms Dictionary, 3rd ed. © HarperCollins Publishers 2012

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
Farlex Partner Idioms Dictionary © Farlex 2017

bread and circuses

Crowd-pleasers, events of popular appeal. The term dates from the Roman poet Juvenal’s Satires, in which he said, Duas tantum res anxius optat, Panem et Circenses (Two things only the people earnestly desire, bread and [the games of the] circuses). Although this expression has survived long enough into modern times to become a cliché, it appears to be dying out. However, in the 1990s a very successful Massachusetts chain of health-food stores called itself the Bread & Circus Wholefood Supermarkets.
See also: and, bread, circus

three-ring circus, a

An occasion of utter confusion. This late nineteenth-century Americanism alludes to a circus in which three rings or arenas are featuring performances at the same time. Possibly invented by P. T. Barnum, the epitome of American show business entrepreneurs, the term was transferred to other extravagant events and disorderly situations by about 1900. Rudyard Kipling used it in A Diversity of Creatures (1914): “I can see lots of things from here. It’s like a three-ring circus!”
The Dictionary of Clichés by Christine Ammer Copyright © 2013 by Christine Ammer
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References in periodicals archive ?
The girlish, circusy movement together with the slides gave us time to reflect on the text, as flipping through photo albums invites us to reflect on the past.
Packed with difficult, often dangerous-looking required moves, it allows less leeway for interpretive expression and can all too often look tough and circusy. The skill required for executing a tricky maneuver like the throw triple twist, in which the woman is launched into the.