There was a great word I heard used on the radio to describe Trump's campaign at the end of last year. It was at least three syllables, a highly unusual word, possibly Grecian in origin. It meant, roughly, 'marked by circus or clown-like performance'. The person who used the word was being quoted by the radio, and had called on Trump to halt his entire X campaign.

I want this word in my vocabulary! All my attempts to remember it and rediscover it have failed...

  • Bandwagon: ? : a popular activity, effort, cause, etc., that attracts growing support or "Kermess" . A fundraising fair or carnival.
    – user66974
    Jul 15, 2016 at 11:38
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    It seems to me that when there's an election in the offing, all American politicians act in ways 'marked by circus or clown-like performance'. So perhaps the best word is just stumping - making political campaign speeches. Jul 15, 2016 at 11:56
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    Americans would not tend to use kermess. It's pretty much unknown here. Jul 15, 2016 at 13:51
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    Have you made any attempt to find the audio clip? If you know the station, they may have podcast versions of their shows you can download, so if you remember when you heard it/what radio station you were listening to, you might be able to help. Since this was a while ago, you may not, but it's an idea. :)
    – Catija
    Jul 15, 2016 at 18:39
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    I'm here, none of them are even close, though I appreciate yours for its thoroughness. I've been trying to find the word in my own browser history and with other searching without luck. @Catija has had the best idea so far.
    – Wapiti
    Jul 17, 2016 at 22:17

5 Answers 5


I found "circensian," which Merriam-Webster has as: "of or relating to the Circus in ancient Rome." That was suggested on this Writers Stack Exchange thread.

I also think "buffoonish" might work, which is the adjective form of "buffoon":

1. a person who amuses others by tricks, jokes, odd gestures and postures, etc.

2. a person given to coarse or undignified joking.



It's not a three syllable word, so likely not what you are seeking, but perhaps madcap [OED] is a good fit?

Amusingly eccentric

Also check out Merriam-Webster's definition:

marked by capriciousness, recklessness, or foolishness


Although it's meaning is not specifically clown-like or circus-like, a similar word I enjoy hearing is shambolic.

Chaotic, disorganized, or mismanaged

Example: Beware Boris Johnson: The Power of a Cunning Clown

Boris Johnson may appear shambolic. He is anything but.


Mark Block: ringleader of Herman Cain's shambolic clown show


Perhaps razzmatazz?

Oxford Learner's Dictionaries

a lot of noisy exciting activity that is intended to attract people’s attention

The documentary focuses on the razzmatazz of an American political campaign.


3.(informal) Something presenting itself in a fanciful and showy, often unrealistic manner, especially when intended to impress and confuse.

Is he really the next big thing, or is all the media attention just a bunch of razzmatazz?

These particular examples would likely be used in a political context, which is why you might have found the word listening to the Trump media.

This word is derived from razzle-dazzle

American Heritage dicitionary

  1. Elaborate action or maneuvers designed to deceive an opponent, as in a sports contest.
  2. Extravagant or showy display, as of technique: a lecture that was more razzle-dazzle than substance.

These words seem like exactly the type to be used to describe circus performances, as shown in this definition:

Merriam-Webster Learner's Dictionary

1 : noisy and exciting activity meant to attract attention

The kids enjoyed the razzle-dazzle of the circus.

Perhaps pantomime, as this fits your requirement of three syllables and has Greek origins:

Oxford English dictionaries


Express or represent (something) by extravagant and exaggerated mime

the clown candidates pantomimed different emotions

noun: 1.1 An absurdly exaggerated piece of behavior

Huffington Post

Donald Trump and the Republican Pantomime of 2016


The Pantomime Villain Leading The World Toward Armageddon

The Telegraph

Donald Trump's crude pantomime villainy will make it harder to fight Islamic terror

GQ Magazine


The Independent

Giving his best pantomime performance, Trump goads supporters to boo Barack Obama

Perhaps a less likely option: ballyhoo, which comes from circus slang.

etymonline etymology

"publicity, hype," 1908, from circus slang, "a short sample of a sideshow" (1901), which is of unknown origin.


To sensationalise or make grand claims.

1933 — Franklin D. Roosevelt, Fireside Chat (7 May):

Industry has picked up, railroads are carrying more freight, farm prices are better, but I am not going to indulge in issuing proclamations of over-enthusiastic assurance. We cannot ballyhoo ourselves back to prosperity.


The word I was looking for was bloviating. It was from the headline Trump should pull the plug on his bloviating sideshow. It was my fault for not posing the question properly, because in my memory, I remembered something about this sideshow, which reminded me of a circus! Well, I finally remembered the word. Here's the link.

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