harlequin

noun
har·​le·​quin | \ ˈhär-li-k(w)ən How to pronounce harlequin (audio) \

Definition of harlequin

1a capitalized : a character in comedy and pantomime with a shaved head, masked face, variegated tights, and wooden sword
b : 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)

Illustration of harlequin

Illustration of harlequin

Harlequin

Keep scrolling for more

Synonyms for harlequin

Synonyms

buffo, buffoon, clown, zany

Visit the Thesaurus for More 

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.

Examples of harlequin in a Sentence

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

First Known Use of harlequin

1590, in the meaning defined at sense 1a

History and Etymology for harlequin

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

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about harlequin

Statistics for harlequin

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for harlequin

The first known use of harlequin was in 1590

See more words from the same year

Keep scrolling for more

More Definitions for harlequin

harlequin

noun

English Language Learners Definition of harlequin

: 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

Keep scrolling for more

More from Merriam-Webster on harlequin

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for harlequin

Spanish Central: Translation of harlequin

Nglish: Translation of harlequin for Spanish Speakers

Britannica.com: Encyclopedia article about harlequin

Comments on harlequin

What made you want to look up harlequin? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).

WORD OF THE DAY

a usually brief trip or an expedition

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

Summer 2019 Words of the Day Quiz

  • a-bowl-of-peach-sorbet-with-cut-peaches-next-to-it
  • Which is a synonym of desideratum?
Name That Thing

Test your visual vocabulary with our 10-question challenge!

TAKE THE QUIZ
Dictionary Devil

Test Your Knowledge - and learn some interesting things along the way.

TAKE THE QUIZ
Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!