If your little sister seems fascinated by the harlequin character in the play you're watching together, it might be because of the brightly colored, diamond-patterned tights he's wearing. A harlequin is a classic comic pantomime character.

In traditional pantomime, a comic performance with silent actors, a harlequin is a funny character who wears a mask and a distinctive diamond-patterned costume. The word harlequin sometimes describes bright, many-colored colored things, like a harlequin circus tent. The oldest versions of the word harlequin — the Middle Dutch hellekijn and the Old French hellequin, reference Hell and mean a kind of demon. In the translation from French to English, the harlequin lost his demonic quality and became a clown.

Definitions of harlequin

n a clown or buffoon (after the Harlequin character in the commedia dell'arte)

Type of:
buffoon, clown, goof, goofball, merry andrew
a person who amuses others by ridiculous behavior

v variegate with spots or marks

“His face was harlequined with patches”
Type of:
cloud, dapple, mottle
colour with streaks or blotches of different shades

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