har·​le·​quin·​ade ˌhär-li-k(w)ə-ˈnād How to pronounce harlequinade (audio)
: a play or pantomime in which Harlequin has a leading role

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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 harlequinade in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web Grimaldi is credited with expanding the role of the clown in British theater's harlequinade. Mike Sager, Esquire, 4 June 2015

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'harlequinade.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History

First Known Use

1781, in the meaning defined above

Time Traveler
The first known use of harlequinade was in 1781

Dictionary Entries Near harlequinade

Cite this Entry

“Harlequinade.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/harlequinade. Accessed 5 Dec. 2023.

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