From Middle French bouffon, from Italian buffone (“jester”), from buffare (“to puff out the cheeks”), of unknown origin. Compare Middle High German buffen ("to puff"; > German büffen), Old English pyffan (“to breathe out, blow with the mouth”). More at English puff.
buffoon (plural buffoons)
- One who acts in a silly or ridiculous fashion; a clown or fool.
- To divert the audience with buffoon postures and antic dances.
- (derogatory) An unintentionally ridiculous person.
- 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.
- To behave like a buffoon
- 1988, January 22, “Henry Sheehan”, in Little Boy Blue:
- 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.