follow Dictionary.com

Stories We Like: Novels For Language Lovers

clown

[kloun] /klaʊn/
noun
1.
a comic performer, as in a circus, theatrical production, or the like, who wears an outlandish costume and makeup and entertains by pantomiming common situations or actions in exaggerated or ridiculous fashion, by juggling or tumbling, etc.
2.
a person who acts like a clown; comedian; joker; buffoon; jester.
3.
a prankster; a practical joker.
4.
Slang. a coarse, ill-bred person; a boor.
5.
a peasant; rustic.
verb (used without object)
6.
to act like a clown.
Origin
1555-1565
1555-65; earlier cloyne, clowne, perhaps akin to Old Norse klunni boor, Danish dialect klunds, Swedish dialect klunn log
Related forms
clownish, adjective
clownishly, adverb
clownishness, noun
Synonyms
3. lout, churl. 4. bumpkin.
Dictionary.com Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2014.
Cite This Source
Examples from the web for clown
  • Introduce and model the concept of tree diagrams using the clown problem.
  • When a clown does it, they call it part of the act of being a clown.
  • It's a three ring disaster, the bozo the clown forgot to install an off switch.
  • Every clown can find fault though it would puzzle him to do better.
  • Who looks for a courtier's tongue between the teeth of a clown.
  • Through this pantomime of his policy, fortune played the clown to his caprices.
  • As the battery discharges, lithium ions diffuse into the water, but the device doesn't harm the surrounding clown fish.
  • He really should be made to wear a clown suit in public.
  • The hostess gave us plates of cake and bags of candy, and the clown gave me a hug.
  • In between events the rodeo clown does push-ups to prove he is in shape.
British Dictionary definitions for clown

clown

/klaʊn/
noun
1.
a comic entertainer, usually grotesquely costumed and made up, appearing in the circus
2.
any performer who elicits an amused response
3.
someone who plays jokes or tricks
4.
a person who acts in a comic or buffoon-like manner
5.
a coarse clumsy rude person; boor
6.
(archaic) a countryman or rustic
verb (intransitive)
7.
to perform as a clown
8.
to play jokes or tricks
9.
to act foolishly
Derived Forms
clownery, noun
clownish, adjective
clownishly, adverb
clownishness, noun
Word Origin
C16: perhaps of Low German origin; compare Frisian klönne, Icelandic klunni clumsy fellow
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
Cite This Source
Word Origin and History for clown
n.

1560s, clowne, also cloyne, "rustic, boor, peasant," origin uncertain. Perhaps from Scandinavian dialect (cf. Icelandic klunni "clumsy, boorish fellow;" Swedish kluns "a hard knob; a clumsy fellow," Danish klunt "log, block"), or akin to North Frisian klönne "clumsy person." Or, less likely, from Latin colonus "colonist, farmer," though awareness of this word might have influenced the sense development in English.

Meaning "professional fool, professional or habitual jester" is c.1600. "The pantomime clown represents a blend of the Shakes[pearean] rustic with one of the stock types of the It. comedy" [Weekley]. Meaning "contemptible person" is from 1920s. Fem. form clowness attested from 1801.

v.

c.1600, "to play the clown onstage," from clown (n.); colloquial sense of "to behave inappropriately" (e.g. clown around, 1932) attested by 1928, perhaps from theatrical slang sense of "play a (non-comical) part farcically or comically" (1891). Related: Clowned; clowning.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
Cite This Source
Slang definitions & phrases for clown

clown

noun

A person for whom the speaker feels mild contempt, esp one whose behavior merits derision: Get this clown off my back and let me help you (1920s+)

verb

(also clown around) To behave frivolously; persist in inappropriate levity (1940s+)


The Dictionary of American Slang, Fourth Edition by Barbara Ann Kipfer, PhD. and Robert L. Chapman, Ph.D.
Copyright (C) 2007 by HarperCollins Publishers.
Cite This Source

Word of the Day

Difficulty index for clown

Most English speakers likely know this word

Word Value for clown

10
13
Scrabble Words With Friends

Quotes with clown

Nearby words for clown