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circus (n.)

14世纪末, 指古罗马用于比赛等的大型, 长方形, 无顶的围墙, 来自拉丁文 circus “环形, 圆线”, 罗马人将其应用于表演和比赛的圆形竞技场和比赛用的椭圆形场地(尤其是 Circus Maximus), 来自或同源于希腊文 kirkos “圆圈, 环形”, 可能来自PIE *kikro-, 是根 *sker- (2) “转弯, 弯曲” 的重写形式. 形容词形式为circensian.

从1791年开始, 指现代大型竞技场, 用于表演马术, 杂技等壮举, 当时的意义扩展到表演公司本身和所给予的娱乐, 因此是“巡回演出” (原 traveling circus, 1838年). 在第一次世界大战中扩展为军用飞机中队. 意为“热闹的骚动, 混乱的喧哗”, 出自1869年.

Picadilly Circus 和其他地名中的意义是来自18世纪初的意义“建筑物排列成环形”, 也有“环形路” 的意思.

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Definitions of circus from WordNet
1
circus (n.)
a travelling company of entertainers; including trained animals;
he ran away from home to join the circus
circus (n.)
a performance given by a traveling company of acrobats, clowns, and trained animals;
the children always love to go to the circus
circus (n.)
a frenetic disorganized (and often comic) disturbance suggestive of a large public entertainment;
it was so funny it was a circus
Synonyms: carnival
circus (n.)
(antiquity) an open-air stadium for chariot races and gladiatorial games;
circus (n.)
an arena consisting of an oval or circular area enclosed by tiers of seats and usually covered by a tent;
they used the elephants to help put up the circus
2
Circus (n.)
a genus of haws comprising the harriers;
Synonyms: genus Circus
From wordnet.princeton.edu