"a buffoon who practices gesticulations" [Johnson], c.1600, from Fr. mime, from L. mimus, from Gk. mimos "imitator, actor, buffoon," of unknown origin. The verb meaning "to act without words" is from 1610s; the transferred sense of "to imitate" is from 1733 (Gk. mimeisthai meant "to imitate"). Related: mimed; miming.