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).
harlequin (plural harlequins)
- A pantomime fool, typically dressed in checkered colorful 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.
- A greenish-chartreuse color.
- Because of its origin in the name of an Italian theatrical character, Harlequin is often used as a proper noun.
harlequin (not comparable)
- Brightly colored, especially in a pattern like that of a harlequin clown's clothes.
- Of a greenish-chartreuse color.