'Scaramouch,' Scaramucci Possibly to Fandango

Lookups spiked on reports that Anthony Scaramucci was offered the position of White House communications director

Lookups for scaramouch spiked on July 21, 2017, after it was reported that President Trump offered the position of White House communications director to a man named Anthony Scaramucci. Press Secretary Sean Spicer resigned because he did not agree with the president’s choice.

Scaramouch (also sometimes spelled scaramouche) is the name of a stock character in the largely improvised Italian commedia dell’arte, a theatrical comic entertainment most popular from the 1500s to the 1800s. The characters often wore masks and improvised scenes based on well-known routines and situations. Scaramouch is defined in the dictionary as follows:

: a stock character in the Italian commedia dell'arte that burlesques the Spanish don and is characterized by boastfulness and cowardliness

Another of the stock characters was harlequin. Harlequin was portrayed as a gentleman’s valet and Scaramouch was an unscrupulous servant, and the stage routines often involved Harlequin beating Scaramouch with a wooden sword. These fights may explain the name of Scaramouch itself: it comes from the Italian word scaramuccia, meaning “to skirmish.”

Generic use of scaramouch evolved to mean “a cowardly buffoon” or “rascal.”

Despite the energetic physical nature of the comedy of Harlequin and Scaramouch, there is no evidence that they performed the Spanish dance known as the fandango.

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