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harlequin

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
  1. noun
    a clown or buffoon (after the Harlequin character in the commedia dell'arte)
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    type of:
    buffoon, clown, goof, goofball, merry andrew
    a person who amuses others by ridiculous behavior
  2. verb
    variegate with spots or marks
    “His face was harlequined with patches”
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    type of:
    cloud, dapple, mottle
    colour with streaks or blotches of different shades
Word Family
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