- a comic performer, as in a circus, theatrical production, or the like, who wears an outlandish costume and makeup and entertains by pantomiming common situations or actions in exaggerated or ridiculous fashion, by juggling or tumbling, etc.
- a person who acts like a clown; comedian; joker; buffoon; jester.
- a prankster; a practical joker.
- Slang. a coarse, ill-bred person; a boor.
- a peasant; rustic.
- to act like a clown.
Origin of clown
SynonymsSee more synonyms on Thesaurus.com
Examples from the Web for clowning
Between all the clowning, the show cycled through dozens and dozens of singers.'American Idol' Premiere Review: The Clown Show Is Back and We Love It
January 16, 2014
He told Mohammed that he was just there clowning and that Mo had a real shot and could have his spot.The Next Arab Idol: Palestine's Boy Wonder and Stereotype Buster
May 22, 2013
Do you think we will let you ruin everything by your clowning?Scaramouche
"All for your good," said Torpenhow, not in the least with reference to past clowning.The Works of Rudyard Kipling: One Volume Edition
Like everything else in this busy world, clowning must be timely.The Autobiography of a Clown
Isaac Frederick Marcosson
At every piece of clowning there was the same responsive gurgle of delight.Plays, Acting and Music
And his clowning and mugging made it impossible to play a legitimate scene with him, with any shadow of professional self-respect.The Real Adventure
Henry Kitchell Webster
- a comic entertainer, usually grotesquely costumed and made up, appearing in the circus
- any performer who elicits an amused response
- someone who plays jokes or tricks
- a person who acts in a comic or buffoon-like manner
- a coarse clumsy rude person; boor
- archaic a countryman or rustic
- to perform as a clown
- to play jokes or tricks
- to act foolishly
Word Origin and History for clowning
1861, verbal noun from clown (v.).
1560s, clowne, also cloyne, "rustic, boor, peasant," origin uncertain. Perhaps from Scandinavian dialect (cf. Icelandic klunni "clumsy, boorish fellow;" Swedish kluns "a hard knob; a clumsy fellow," Danish klunt "log, block"), or akin to North Frisian klönne "clumsy person." Or, less likely, from Latin colonus "colonist, farmer," though awareness of this word might have influenced the sense development in English.
Meaning "professional fool, professional or habitual jester" is c.1600. "The pantomime clown represents a blend of the Shakes[pearean] rustic with one of the stock types of the It. comedy" [Weekley]. Meaning "contemptible person" is from 1920s. Fem. form clowness attested from 1801.
c.1600, "to play the clown onstage," from clown (n.); colloquial sense of "to behave inappropriately" (e.g. clown around, 1932) attested by 1928, perhaps from theatrical slang sense of "play a (non-comical) part farcically or comically" (1891). Related: Clowned; clowning.