harlequin

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English[edit]

Cezanne Harlequin.JPG

Etymology[edit]

From Middle French Harlequin (in Italian Arlecchino, the name of a popular servant character in commedia dell'arte plays) from Old French *Harlequin, Halequin, Herlequin, Hellequin (a demon, malevolent spirit), connected to the Old English figure of Herla Cyning (King Herla), a mythical figure identified with Woden.

Pronunciation[edit]

Noun[edit]

harlequin (plural harlequins)

  1. a pantomime fool, typically dressed in checkered clothes
    • 1749, Henry Fielding, The History of Tom Jones, a Foundling
      ... were certainly the worst and dullest company into which an audience was ever introduced; and (which was a secret known to few) were actually intended so to be, in order to contrast the comic part of the entertainment, and to display the tricks of harlequin to the better advantage.

Translations[edit]

Usage notes[edit]

  • Because of its origin in the name of an Italian theatrical character, English Harlequin is often used as a proper name.

Adjective[edit]

harlequin

  1. brightly coloured, especially in a pattern like that of a harlequin clown's clothes

Translations[edit]

Derived terms[edit]

Verb[edit]

harlequin (third-person singular simple present harlequins, present participle harlequining, simple past and past participle harlequined)

  1. (transitive) To remove or conjure away, as if by a harlequin's trick.
    • M. Green
      And kitten, if the humour hit / Has harlequined away the fit.
  2. (intransitive) To make sport by playing ludicrous tricks.