coul·​ro·​pho·​bia | \ ˌkül-rə-ˈfō-bē-ə How to pronounce coulrophobia (audio) , ˌkäl- \

Definition of coulrophobia

: abnormal fear of clowns The term for fear of clowns—coulrophobia—is of fairly recent invention, coined, perhaps, as enough grownups found they were not alone in lingering childhood queasiness over exposure to big people dressed like Bozo.— Richard Dodds Brian Belden, a child psychologist at Children's Mercy, said there is such a thing as irrational fear of clowns (the clinical term is coulrophobia) that afflicts children and adults.— Robert Trussell

Other Words from coulrophobia

coulrophobe \ ˈkül-​rə-​ˌfōb How to pronounce coulrophobia (audio) , ˈkäl-​ \ or coulrophobic \ ˌkül-​rə-​ˈfō-​bik How to pronounce coulrophobia (audio) , ˌkäl-​ \ noun, plural coulrophobes or coulrophobics
Perhaps unsurprisingly, the man who created one of the most frightening evil clowns in literary history has admitted to being a bit of a coulrophobe himself. — Rebecca Hawkes More than 70 coulrophobics and parents complained about posters and bus ads featuring the head of a scruffy, smiling clown doll with the tagline "They know what scares you". — Dugald Baird
coulrophobic adjective
Want to ruin your coulrophobic friend's day? Schedule a donut delivery from a scary clown driving an ambulance called the "emergency donut vehicle." — Matthew Schniper

First Known Use of coulrophobia

1998, in the meaning defined above

History and Etymology for coulrophobia

coulro- (of unknown meaning and origin) + -phobia

Note: A word apparently invented in the 1990's. Various suggested origins for coulro-, as Greek kōlobathristḗs "stilt-walker" (attested only by the lexicographical collector Hesychius), are too phonetically distant to be plausible.

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The first known use of coulrophobia was in 1998

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Cite this Entry

“Coulrophobia.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 17 Aug. 2022.

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More Definitions for coulrophobia


coul·​ro·​pho·​bia | \ ˌkül-rə-ˈfō-bē-ə, ˌkäl- How to pronounce coulrophobia (audio) \

Medical Definition of coulrophobia

: abnormal fear of clowns


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