three-ring 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.
See also: circus

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

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 ?
Perhaps your hot tub retail promotions won't involve a three-ring circus, but they can be every bit as effective as Barnum's.
The story of the buck's existence (along with photos) even got out to a national magazine and appeared on the newsstands in late 2001, turning the area into a three-ring circus for the 2002 season.
You have to wonder if this is a confessional tradition or a three-ring circus.
The three-ring circus is made up of around 180 performers and 80 animals.
Five rings symbolize the Olympics, but hosting them has largely been a three-ring circus.
The suits against MetLife represented one of the more outrageous reaches by the plaintiffs bar in the three-ring circus that is asbestos litigation today," said Robert Hartwig, chief economist for the Insurance Information Institute.
As a mother of two other children who had experienced this Roman Catholic rite of passage just five and eight years, respectively, before, I was astonished and appalled at how First Communions, for Emily's generation, had suddenly become a commercial three-ring circus.
Culinary Classic IV, at the Salinas Community Center, is a virtual three-ring circus of good eating.
On the program's welcome page, Peter Pike referred to his eponymous Expo as "a three-ring circus.
Over the past few years I'd become friendly with some former circus performers, too, and through sharing their memories had begun to share their concern that the traditional three-ring circus, with its trained animals and skilled circus families passing down their acts from generation to generation, was fading into the past.
While the circus has been an incredible experience, he is looking forward to a tamer life outside of the three-ring circus.
The Big L strides from one side of the stage to the other, waves statistics about as though they were flags, and stomps her way through a three-ring circus of innuendo and assumption.
Yet Hyde, as usual, insisted that he was only being fair: "This has not been a partisan exercise," he declared in his fluent baritone at the press conference, "it has been conducted discreetly without a three-ring circus atmosphere.
The monthly meetings of the Bank of England's monetary policy committee have become a three-ring circus for the "teenage scribblers" of the City and a damaging sideshow for people working in the real economy.