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>
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 Medieval French Helquin, a demon
First Known Use: 1590
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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