- a grotesque or absurd chief character in a puppet show of Italian origin: the prototype of Punch.
- any similarly grotesque or absurd person or thing.
Origin of Punchinello
1660–70; < Italian (Naples dial.) polecenella character in the puppet show, diminutive of polecana turkey-cock chick < Late Latin pullicēnus, derivative of Latin pullus pullet
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018
Examples from the Web for punchinello
A punchinello jarred against him with: “Pardonnez moi, pardie!”The Strollers
Frederic S. Isham
It is also from Naples that we have taken the Punchinello dance.A Treatise on the Art of Dancing
Punchinello asks Columbine who has been with her, and she replies, "Only the servant."Stars of the Opera
The circus folk said Punchinello was not well and told him he must rest.
Suddenly the child stopped, for Punchinello was no longer dancing.
- a type of clown from Italian burlesque or puppet shows, the prototype of Punch
- (sometimes not capital) any grotesque or absurd character
C17: from earlier Polichinello, from Italian (Neapolitan dialect) Polecenella, from Italian pulcino chicken, ultimately from Latin pullus young animal
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
Word Origin and History for punchinello
Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper