Definition of harlequin
1a capitalized : a character in comedy and pantomime with a shaved head, masked face, variegated tights, and wooden swordb : buffoon
2a : a variegated pattern (as of a textile)b : a combination of patches on a solid ground of contrasting color (as in the coats of some dogs)
Examples of harlequin in a Sentence
among the court entertainers waiting to enter the grand hall were masked harlequins in brightly colored pantaloons
Recent Examples of harlequin from the Web
Visiting the mountain cloud forests, which once echoed with the chirps of harlequin frogs, they were struck by the silence.
These harlequin frogs are easy to put transmitters on because their skin is not slippery. .
These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'harlequin.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.
History of harlequin
When capitalized, Harlequin refers to a stock character of the Italian commedia dell’arte and subsequently the pantomime traditions of other nations. The character began in the 16th century as an unscrupulous comic servant, later became a faithful valet involved in amorous exploits, and ultimately evolved into a clownlike figure engaging in good-natured joking and amusing tricks. Harlequin’s outfit began as peasant clothes covered in bright patches and developed into a tight-fitting costume with bright triangles and diamond shapes and a black half-mask. Harlequin was the principal character of pantomime slapstick plays known as harlequinades.
Origin and Etymology of harlequin
ultimately from Italian arlecchino, from Middle French Helquin, a demon
First Known Use: 1590See Words from the same year
HARLEQUIN Defined for English Language Learners
Definition of harlequin for English Language Learners
: a pattern of diamond-shaped figures of different colors
: a comic character in old stories and plays who wears a mask and colorful clothes with a diamond pattern
Seen and Heard
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