Definition of clown in English:



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

    • ‘We are not here to act like the clowns of a circus.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘She tells a marvellous story of the six-year-old Billy seeing a clown at the circus balancing a birthday cake on his shoulder.’
    • ‘Honestly, you should join the circus and become a 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.’
    • ‘Every year they just book these same unfunny clowns and stupid circus acts.’
    • ‘But, unlike the old circus shows with their clowns and candyfloss, this performance is governed by a sophisticated theatrical sensibility.’
    • ‘And now is the time for all of us to take a closer and careful look at these circus clowns!’
    • ‘A circus clown received stitches to the head after he was thrown through a glass door.’
    • ‘His production is set on a deserted seaside pier haunted by the ghosts of circus clowns.’
    • ‘Other attractions at the circus include clowns, acrobats, wire-walkers, trapeze artists, an equestrian display and jugglers.’
    • ‘The film is about a clown who leaves his circus and lives in a building near a railway station.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘Certainly, no classic circus is complete without clowns.’
    • ‘He, meanwhile, comes from a family of circus clowns 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.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘One of the most enduring, and perhaps the most endearing artistes in any circus is undoubtedly the clown.’
    • ‘They are performing like clowns in a circus, entertaining the public.’
    comic entertainer, pierrot, comedian
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    1. 1.1A comical, silly, playful person.
      ‘I was always the class clown’
      • ‘Luckily, we had four or five guys in the group who must have been the class clowns at school.’
      • ‘So maybe we are supposed to decide for ourselves if he is just the class clown or not.’
      • ‘He was the class clown and easily one of the funniest, most good natured people I ever had the pleasure of knowing.’
      • ‘The class grew louder as one of the class clowns stood up to rant a bit.’
      • ‘He was the class clown, known by all and loved by most.’
      • ‘I was the class clown, you know, that kind of thing, and I gathered around me a group of guys who also were silly.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘And to that end, he teaches serious professionals how to play the clown.’
      • ‘He seemed like a class clown, and most girls flock towards that.’
      • ‘He had a restless, attention-seeking nature and loved to play the clown.’
      • ‘He resorts to being the class clown to cover up for his difficulties.’
      • ‘Sam is in my class, and we are the trouble makers, or you could call us the class clowns.’
      • ‘I missed a lot at school by not hearing properly, and ended up being 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.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘He was the class clown, so shy and unsporty that he survived only by making others laugh.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘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.’
      joker, comedian, comic, humorist, wag, wit, funny girl, funny man, funny woman, prankster, jester, jokester, buffoon, character
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    2. 1.2A foolish or incompetent person.
      ‘we need a serious government, not a bunch of clowns’
      • ‘For a moment I smiled like a foolish clown, then twiddled my thumbs.’
      • ‘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!’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘The American team performed like a bunch of clowns, me, included, of course.’
      • ‘They are all a bunch of clowns as far as I'm concerned.’
      • ‘And I think most people see them as a bunch of clowns.’
      • ‘He had real guts but you clowns are just a bunch of capitalist money-makers.’
      • ‘He has set himself up as the worst type of unprofessional clown playing the fool in public.’
      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.’


  • Behave in a comical way; act playfully.

    ‘Harvey clowned around pretending to be a dog’
    • ‘They start entertaining themselves by clowning around a lot and being silly.’
    • ‘Children clowned around with a jester at a fun workshop on April Fool's Day.’
    • ‘All they saw was the fool who clowned around in class.’
    • ‘At the Junior School, the children clowned around with wigs and face-paints.’
    • ‘Should I just let him clown around, so he doesn't associate this stuff with work?’
    • ‘Anyhow, we were getting pretty stupid and tired, and so he started clowning around to make me laugh.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘But even at 18 he couldn't kill off an instinct to clown around.’
    • ‘In theatre, clowning around is a generally accepted thing.’
    • ‘Always clowning around, teasing girls, and getting into scraps with others, he's heading for self-destruction.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘Or, they may be clowning around and not concentrating.’
    • ‘These films had minimal storylines and just gave the pop stars an opportunity to clown around and do their thing in between tunes.’
    • ‘As you would expect, they're clowning around and posing for the camera, just as children would anywhere else.’
    • ‘They laughed; they clowned around, they playfully argued over who would pickup the tab.’
    • ‘But here, we're all relaxed, and we're just a bunch of guys having fun and clowning around at Christmas.’
    • ‘He continued to clown around and make snide remarks to the others.’
    • ‘Two men spend more time clowning around with brushes than cleaning up.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘He said: ‘We heard a huge bang and thought it was somebody clowning around with fireworks.’’
    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
    joke, jest
    mess about, mess around, lark, lark about, lark around, horse about, horse around
    muck about, muck around
    cut up
    piss about, piss around, arse about, arse around, bugger about, bugger around
    play the giddy goat
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Mid 16th century ( clown): perhaps of Low German origin.