Etymology
Advertisement
carnival (n.)
1540s, "time of merrymaking before Lent," from French carnaval, from Italian carnevale "Shrove Tuesday," from older Italian forms such as Milanese *carnelevale, Old Pisan carnelevare "to remove meat," literally "raising flesh," from Latin caro "flesh" (originally "a piece of flesh," from PIE root *sker- (1) "to cut") + levare "lighten, raise, remove" (from PIE root *legwh- "not heavy, having little weight").

Folk etymology is from Medieval Latin carne vale " 'flesh, farewell!' " From 1590s in figurative sense "feasting or revelry in general." Meaning "a circus or amusement fair" is attested by 1926 in American English.
Related entries & more 
Advertisement
carny (n.)
1931, U.S. slang, short for carnival worker (see carnival).
Related entries & more 
*legwh- 
Proto-Indo-European root meaning "not heavy, having little weight."

It forms all or part of: alleviate; alleviation; alto-rilievo; carnival; elevate; elevation; elevator; leaven; legerdemain; leprechaun; Levant; levator; levee; lever; levity; levy (v.) "to raise or collect;" light (adj.1) "not heavy, having little weight;" lighter (n.1) "type of barge used in unloading;" lung; relevance; relevant; releve; relief; relieve.

It is the hypothetical source of/evidence for its existence is provided by: Sanskrit laghuh "quick, small;" Greek elakhys "small," elaphros "light;" Latin levare "to raise," levis "light in weight, not heavy;" Old Church Slavonic liguku, Russian lëgkij, Polish lekki, Lithuanian lengvas "light in weight;" Old Irish lu "small," laigiu "smaller, worse;" Gothic leihts, Old English leoht "not heavy, light in weight."
Related entries & more 
*sker- (1)

also *ker-, Proto-Indo-European root meaning "to cut."

It forms all or part of: bias; carnage; carnal; carnation; carnival; carnivorous; carrion; cenacle; charcuterie; charnel; corium; cortex; crone; cuirass; currier; curt; decorticate; excoriate; incarnadine; incarnate; incarnation; kirtle; scabbard; scar (n.2) "bare and broken rocky face of a cliff or mountain;" scaramouche; scarf (n.2) "connecting joint;" scarp; score; scrabble; scrap (n.1) "small piece;" scrape; screen; screw; scrimmage; scrofula; scrub (n.1) "low, stunted tree;" scurf; shard; share (n.1) "portion;" share (n.2) "iron blade of a plow;" sharp; shear; shears; sheer (adj.) "absolute, utter;" shirt; shore (n.) "land bordering a large body of water;" short; shrub; skerry; skirmish; skirt.

It is the hypothetical source of/evidence for its existence is provided by: Sanskrit krnati "hurts, wounds, kills," krntati "cuts;" Hittite karsh- "to cut off;" Greek keirein "to cut, shear;" Latin curtus "short;" Lithuanian skiriu, skirti "to separate;" Old English sceran, scieran "to cleave, hew, cut with a sharp instrument;" Old Irish scaraim "I separate;" Welsh ysgar "to separate," ysgyr "fragment."

Related entries & more 
grab-bag (n.)
"miscellaneous mixture," 1867, originally the name of a carnival game (1854) consisting of a bag full of items to be obtained by thrusting the hand within, the privilege of doing so having previously been bought; from grab + bag (n.).
Related entries & more 
Advertisement
grifter (n.)
"confidence trickster," 1906, carnival and circus slang, probably an alteration of grafter (see graft (n.2); also compare grift). Gradually extended to "any non-violent criminal."
Related entries & more 
shill (n.)
"one who acts as a decoy for a gambler, auctioneer, etc.," 1916, probably originally circus or carnival argot, probably a shortened form of shillaber (1913) with the same meaning, origin unknown. The verb is attested from 1914. Related: Shilled; shilling.
Related entries & more 
scam 

1963, noun ("trick, ruse, swindle, cheat") and verb ("to trick or swindle, perpetrate a fraud"), U.S. slang, a carnival term, of unknown origin. Perhaps related to 19c. British slang scamp "cheater, swindler" (see scamp (n.)).

Related entries & more 
Mardi Gras (n.)

 "Shrove Tuesday, last day of carnival, day of eating and merrymaking before the fasting season of Lent," 1690s, French, literally "fat Tuesday," from mardi "Tuesday" (12c. in Old French, from Latin Martis diem "day of the planet Mars;" see Tuesday) + gras "fat," from Latin crassus, "thick," which is of unknown origin.

Related entries & more 
geek (n.)

"sideshow freak," 1916, U.S. carnival and circus slang, perhaps a variant of geck "a fool, dupe, simpleton" (1510s), apparently from Dutch gek or Low German geck, from an imitative verb found in North Sea Germanic and Scandinavian meaning "to croak, cackle," and also "to mock, cheat" (Dutch gekken, German gecken, Danish gjække, Swedish gäcka). The modern form and the popular use with reference to circus sideshow "wild men" is from 1946, in William Lindsay Gresham's novel "Nightmare Alley" (made into a film in 1947 starring Tyrone Power).

"An ordinary geek doesn't actually eat snakes, just bites off chunks of 'em, chicken heads and rats." [Arthur H. Lewis, "Carnival," 1970]

By c. 1983, used in teenager slang in reference to peers who lacked social graces but were obsessed with new technology and computers (such as the Anthony Michael Hall character in 1984's "Sixteen Candles").

geek out vi. To temporarily enter techno-nerd mode while in a non-hackish context, for example at parties held near computer equipment. [Eric S. Raymond, "The New Hacker's Dictionary," 1996]
Related entries & more