- 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.
- 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
- Australian 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.