harlequin

play
noun har·le·quin \ˈhär-li-k(w)ən\

Definition of harlequin

  1. 1a capitalized :  a character in comedy and pantomime with a shaved head, masked face, variegated tights, and wooden swordb :  buffoon

  2. 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

  1. among the court entertainers waiting to enter the grand hall were masked harlequins in brightly colored pantaloons

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.

Illustration of harlequin

Origin and Etymology of harlequin

ultimately from Italian arlecchino, from Middle French Helquin, a demon


First Known Use: 1590

Other Performing Arts Terms


HARLEQUIN Defined for English Language Learners

harlequin

play
noun har·le·quin \ˈhär-li-k(w)ən\

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



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