Merry Andrew

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Originally associated with a specific act at Bartholomew Fair; later said to have come from the name of Andrew Boorde.


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Merry Andrew (plural Merry Andrews)

  1. (idiomatic) A person who clowns publicly; a buffoon; an entertainer's assistant.
    • 1749, Henry Fielding, Tom Jones, Folio Society 1973, p. 438:
      Instead, therefore, of answering my landlady, the puppet-show man ran out to punish his Merry-Andrew [...]
    • 1873, William Lucas Collins, chapter III, in Plautus and Terence, page 31:
      The games of the circus—the wild-beast fight and the gladiators, the rope-dancers, the merry-andrews, and the posture-masters,—were more to their taste than clever intrigue and brilliant dialogue.
    • 1974, Lawrence Durrell, Monsieur, Faber & Faber 1992, p. 155:
      One of them, the eldest, was a sort of merry andrew and was not above dressing the part with a weird cap of jackal's skin with many hanging tails and tassels.