Lass on trapeze in a snow storm

Last night I went to see the NoFitState circus, who are currently in Bangor. So I thought I’d look at the origins of a few circus related words.

  • circus comes from the Latin word circus (ring, circle) and was used by the Romans to for circular arenas and oval race courses (e.g. the Circus Maximus). The Latin word circus comes from the Greek word κίρκος (kirkos), “circle, ring”, from the Proto-Indo-European word *kirk-, from root *(s)ker- (to turn, bend)
  • trapeze comes from the French word trapèze, which comes from the Late Latin trapezium, from the Greek τραπέζιον (trapezion), “irregular quadrilateral”, a diminutive of τράπεζα (trapeza), “table”, from τρά- (tra-), “four”, and πέζα (peza), “foot, edge”.
  • juggle comes from juggler, which comes from the Old French word jangler/jogler, from the Latin iocor (“I jest, I make a joke”).
  • clown – of unknown origin (there weren’t any last night as it isn’t that kind of circus).

Etymologies from the Online Etymology Dictionary and Wiktionary

This entry was posted in English, Language.

One Response to Circus

  1. Dbaig says:

    What a delightful array of languages. Circus truly juggles different languages and unifies the audience no matter what cast or color they belong to. It’s nice to read about the origins of different words often affiliated with circus. Though it reminds me it’s been ages that I actually went to one! I need to catch up on that too.

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