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clown Syllabification: clown

Definition of clown in English:


1A comic entertainer, especially one in a circus, wearing a traditional costume and exaggerated makeup.
Example sentences
  • Tweedy, who is one of three clowns touring with the circus, made a big impact with the 150 children at the infant school.
  • Other attractions at the circus include clowns, acrobats, wire-walkers, trapeze artists, an equestrian display and jugglers.
  • This was the time also when the circus clowns, saltimbanques and harlequins began to appear on his canvases, with their own smiling kinds of loneliness.
1.1A comical, silly, playful person: I was always the class clown
More example sentences
  • Back then, children were expected to entertain themselves, which is how Lucky learnt to play the clown.
  • And to that end, he teaches serious professionals how to play the clown.
  • He had a restless, attention-seeking nature and loved to play the clown.
1.2A foolish or incompetent person: we need a serious government, not a bunch of clowns
More example sentences
  • If there are clowns and incompetents and criminals in your midst and you protect them, you're just as bad as they are and you command no respect at all from anyone.
  • For a moment I smiled like a foolish clown, then twiddled my thumbs.
  • And I think most people see them as a bunch of clowns.
2 archaic An unsophisticated country person; a rustic.
Example sentences
  • The hob part of hobgoblin was a familiar form of Robin or Robert and became a standard name for a rustic person or a clown.


[no object] Back to top  
Behave in a comical way; act playfully: Harvey clowned around pretending to be a dog
More example sentences
  • They laughed; they clowned around, they playfully argued over who would pickup the tab.
  • All they saw was the fool who clowned around in class.
  • At the Junior School, the children clowned around with wigs and face-paints.
fool around, play the fool, play around, monkey around;
joke (around), jest
informal mess around, horse around


Mid 16th century (sense 2 of the noun): perhaps of Low German origin.

  • The earliest recorded uses of clown means ‘an unsophisticated country person’. Before long it was being applied to any rude or ill-mannered person, and by 1600 the word was also being used to refer to the character of a fool or jester in a stage play, from which the comic entertainer in a circus developed. For some reason quite a few people seem to be afraid of clowns, and a word for the condition has been coined coulrophobia. The first element was borrowed from a Greek word for a stilt-walker, clowns not being known in the classical world.

Words that rhyme with clown

brown, Browne, crown, down, downtown, drown, frown, gown, low-down, noun, renown, run-down, town, upside-down, uptown
Definition of clown in:
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