Definition of clown in English:

clown

noun

  • 1A comic entertainer, especially one in a circus, wearing a traditional costume and exaggerated make-up.

    ‘a circus clown’
    • ‘Her mother was a trapeze artist and her father was also a circus performer and, as a child, she travelled widely and was inspired to learn to stiltwalk by the circus clowns.’
    • ‘His production is set on a deserted seaside pier haunted by the ghosts of circus clowns.’
    • ‘And now is the time for all of us to take a closer and careful look at these circus clowns!’
    • ‘Certainly, no classic circus is complete without clowns.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘They are performing like clowns in a circus, entertaining the public.’
    • ‘One of the most enduring, and perhaps the most endearing artistes in any circus is undoubtedly the clown.’
    • ‘We are not here to act like the clowns of a circus.’
    • ‘She described how she was trained in karate and had mastered the technique of dropping from a low-flying plane without a parachute - a trick taught to her by a circus clown.’
    • ‘He, meanwhile, comes from a family of circus clowns and jugglers.’
    • ‘A circus clown received stitches to the head after he was thrown through a glass door.’
    • ‘Every year they just book these same unfunny clowns and stupid circus acts.’
    • ‘She tells a marvellous story of the six-year-old Billy seeing a clown at the circus balancing a birthday cake on his shoulder.’
    • ‘Other attractions at the circus include clowns, acrobats, wire-walkers, trapeze artists, an equestrian display and jugglers.’
    • ‘He first entered the spotlight as a circus clown aged five and later trained exotic cats and became the show's wild animal trainer.’
    • ‘The film is about a clown who leaves his circus and lives in a building near a railway station.’
    • ‘Honestly, you should join the circus and become a clown.’
    • ‘Tweedy, who is one of three clowns touring with the circus, made a big impact with the 150 children at the infant school.’
    • ‘It's easy to forget that some people have good memories of clowns and circuses because it seems so foreign to us.’
    • ‘But, unlike the old circus shows with their clowns and candyfloss, this performance is governed by a sophisticated theatrical sensibility.’
    • ‘He was decked out in a sparkly blue clown's outfit, and had a bunch of brightly coloured helium filled balloons tied to each wrist.’
    comic entertainer, pierrot, comedian
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    1. 1.1 A playful, extrovert person.
      ‘Martin was always the class clown’
      • ‘I've heard it said that it's never the class clown who goes into comedy but the quiet one who just observes.’
      • ‘The class grew louder as one of the class clowns stood up to rant a bit.’
      • ‘He resorts to being the class clown to cover up for his difficulties.’
      • ‘He was the class clown and easily one of the funniest, most good natured people I ever had the pleasure of knowing.’
      • ‘Al soon followed Kenny, being the clown of the bunch he of course was happy.’
      • ‘Back then, children were expected to entertain themselves, which is how Lucky learnt to play the clown.’
      • ‘I was the class clown, you know, that kind of thing, and I gathered around me a group of guys who also were silly.’
      • ‘He was the class clown, known by all and loved by most.’
      • ‘So maybe we are supposed to decide for ourselves if he is just the class clown or not.’
      • ‘At heart, he loved to play the clown, and it was such a release to sit on a street corner and make a fool out of himself from time to time.’
      • ‘He seemed like a class clown, and most girls flock towards that.’
      • ‘He was the class clown, so shy and unsporty that he survived only by making others laugh.’
      • ‘I missed a lot at school by not hearing properly, and ended up being the class clown.’
      • ‘I was always a problem child, always the class clown, always seeking attention from others.’
      • ‘He was the class clown and he was always the life of the party.’
      • ‘He had a restless, attention-seeking nature and loved to play the clown.’
      • ‘She almost laughed: that kind of response was typical of him, he was a clown, plain and simple, who loved to have fun, and teased all the time.’
      • ‘And to that end, he teaches serious professionals how to play the clown.’
      • ‘Luckily, we had four or five guys in the group who must have been the class clowns at school.’
      • ‘Sam is in my class, and we are the trouble makers, or you could call us the class clowns.’
      joker, comedian, comic, humorist, wag, wit, funny girl, funny man, funny woman, prankster, jester, jokester, buffoon, character
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    2. 1.2 A foolish or incompetent person.
      ‘we need a serious government, not a bunch of clowns’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘Well, we still have over a year to endure this collection of amateur clowns, so who knows what new hilarious skit they will produce in that time.’
      • ‘He has set himself up as the worst type of unprofessional clown playing the fool in public.’
      • ‘He had real guts but you clowns are just a bunch of capitalist money-makers.’
      • ‘The American team performed like a bunch of clowns, me, included, of course.’
      • ‘And I think most people see them as a bunch of clowns.’
      • ‘Just one more incompetent clown that can't slow down a sinking company.’
      • ‘What a pathetic bunch of clowns on both sides of the argument!’
      • ‘For a moment I smiled like a foolish clown, then twiddled my thumbs.’
      • ‘So the problem here lies not merely in the President's own problems, which, I think, are severe enough by themselves, but in this bunch of clowns around him.’
      • ‘They are all a bunch of clowns as far as I'm concerned.’
      fool, idiot, dolt, ass, nincompoop, blockhead, dunce, dunderhead, simpleton, ignoramus, donkey, jackass, dullard
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  • 2archaic An unsophisticated country person; a rustic.

    • ‘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.’
    countryman, countrywoman, peasant, daughter of the soil, son of the soil, country bumpkin, bumpkin, yokel, country cousin
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verb

[NO OBJECT]
  • Behave in a comical or playful way.

    ‘Harvey clowned around pretending to be a dog’
    • ‘All they saw was the fool who clowned around in class.’
    • ‘He has taken the order to stop clowning around in the school car park very badly and complains bitterly that we are all stopping him becoming famous.’
    • ‘These films had minimal storylines and just gave the pop stars an opportunity to clown around and do their thing in between tunes.’
    • ‘Should I just let him clown around, so he doesn't associate this stuff with work?’
    • ‘But even at 18 he couldn't kill off an instinct to clown around.’
    • ‘Anyhow, we were getting pretty stupid and tired, and so he started clowning around to make me laugh.’
    • ‘The most extraordinary thing is the way they distract themselves by clowning around in front of their home-movie camera, a habit inculcated in them by their father in happier times.’
    • ‘In theatre, clowning around is a generally accepted thing.’
    • ‘He continued to clown around and make snide remarks to the others.’
    • ‘She jokes with teammates, clowning through routines in casual moments, and is involved in a social life that she never had before.’
    • ‘She took pictures of school friends clowning around and at summer camp.’
    • ‘Always clowning around, teasing girls, and getting into scraps with others, he's heading for self-destruction.’
    • ‘They laughed; they clowned around, they playfully argued over who would pickup the tab.’
    • ‘Children clowned around with a jester at a fun workshop on April Fool's Day.’
    • ‘At the Junior School, the children clowned around with wigs and face-paints.’
    • ‘But here, we're all relaxed, and we're just a bunch of guys having fun and clowning around at Christmas.’
    • ‘They start entertaining themselves by clowning around a lot and being silly.’
    • ‘Two men spend more time clowning around with brushes than cleaning up.’
    • ‘He said: ‘We heard a huge bang and thought it was somebody clowning around with fireworks.’’
    • ‘Or, they may be clowning around and not concentrating.’
    • ‘As you would expect, they're clowning around and posing for the camera, just as children would anywhere else.’
    fool about, fool around, play the fool, act foolishly, act the clown, act the fool, act the goat, play about, play around, monkey about, monkey around, play tricks, indulge in horseplay, engage in high jinks
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Origin

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

Pronunciation

clown

/klaʊn/