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From Middle French bouffon, from Italian buffone (jester), from buffare (to puff out the cheeks)


  • IPA(key): /bəˈfuːn/
  • (file)
  • Rhymes: -uːn


buffoon (plural buffoons)

  1. One who acts in a silly or ridiculous fashion; a clown or fool.
    • Melmoth
      To divert the audience with buffoon postures and antic dances.
  2. (derogatory) An unintentionally ridiculous person.

Usage notes[edit]

  • In the United States the term is used most commonly to describe inappropriate, clownish figures on the public stage; here the behavior of a variety of public figures have caused them to be described as buffoons by their political opponents.
  • In the UK the term is used more broadly, to describe such people who are held in popular regard but who nevertheless engender amusement with their pronouncements and acts.

Derived terms[edit]



buffoon (third-person singular simple present buffoons, present participle buffooning, simple past and past participle buffooned)

  1. To behave like a buffoon
    • 1988, January 22, “Henry Sheehan”, in Little Boy Blue[1]:
      His mimicry of gay speech and facial expressions is analagous to an Amos 'n' Andy routine, in which white men buffooned their way through incredibly demeaning impersonations of black men.