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a traveling amusement show, having sideshows, rides, etc.
any merrymaking, revelry, or festival, as a program of sports or entertainment:
a winter carnival.
the season immediately preceding Lent, often observed with merrymaking; Shrovetide.
Contemporary Examples

Their attitude, Lipsyte says, was, “We’re all of the carnival, and the rubes”—aka, the readers—”are out there.”
On the Peninsula Bryan Curtis April 24, 2011

Does the American carnival still have room for such a simple pleasure as American Idol?
American Idol at a Crossroads Richard Rushfield January 10, 2010

I just priced a four-day carnival cruise in the Western Caribbean for March for four people.
Floating Petri Dish Aside, Triumph Won’t Sink Carnival Daniel Gross February 14, 2013

Jay Herring, who lived on the Triumph as a senior officer for carnival, on what the passengers are facing.
Carnival Cruise Alum Jay Herring On What It’s Like Aboard the Triumph Jay Herring March 12, 2013

When I auditioned for my high school musical, carnival, they cast me as a deaf-mute.
9 Things We Learned About Katie Couric Maria Elena Fernandez July 25, 2012

Historical Examples

“It certainly doesn’t compare with the carnival last year,” said Mrs. Bowen.
Indian Summer William D. Howells

If many people went to the carnival they must have approached it from the other direction.
Pee-wee Harris Percy Keese Fitzhugh

I think, however—and Wrfel fully approves my intention—of giving my first concert during the carnival.
Frederic Chopin, Vol II (of 2) Moritz Karasowski

They say that you want to give your daughter in marriage to a someone in a carnival costume?
The Middle Class Gentleman Moliere

It was not until this occasion of the carnival that any one at the Villa Camellia had recognized Lorna as a budding beauty.
The Jolliest School of All Angela Brazil


a festive occasion or period marked by merrymaking, processions, etc: esp in some Roman Catholic countries, the period just before Lent
(as modifier): a carnival atmosphere

a travelling fair having merry-go-rounds, etc
a show or display arranged as an amusement
(Austral) a sports meeting

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” (see carnage) + levare “lighten, raise, remove” (see lever (n.)). Folk etymology is from Medieval Latin carne vale ” ‘flesh, farewell!’ ” Meaning “a circus or fair” is attested by 1931 in North America.


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    carnose. Historical Examples For one sufficeth unto generation, as hath been observed in semicastration, and oft times in carnous ruptures. The Works of Sir Thomas Browne (Volume 2 of 3) Thomas Browne

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