harlequin

[ hahr-luh-kwin, -kin ]
/ ˈhɑr lə kwɪn, -kɪn /

noun

(often initial capital letter) a comic character in commedia dell'arte and the harlequinade, usually masked, dressed in multicolored, diamond-patterned tights, and carrying a wooden sword or magic wand.
any of various small snakes having bright diamond-pattern scales.

adjective

fancifully varied in color, decoration, etc.: harlequin pants.
resembling a harlequin's mask: harlequin glasses.

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Origin of harlequin

First recorded in 1580–90; from French, Middle French (h)arlequin, semantically (and in part phonetically), from Italian arlecchino, from Middle French, phonetically continuing unattested Old French harlequin, halequin “a malevolent spirit” (compare mesniee Hellequin a troop of demonic horsemen, literally, “Hellequin's escort”), probably from unattested Middle English Herla king, Old English Her(e)la cyning “King Herle” (unattested), presumably a legendary figure, rendered in Anglo-Latin as Herla rex; compare Old High German Herilo a personal name, derivative of heri “armed forces”

OTHER WORDS FROM harlequin

har·le·quin·ism, noun
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2020

Example sentences from the Web for harlequin

British Dictionary definitions for harlequin

harlequin
/ (ˈhɑːlɪkwɪn) /

noun

(sometimes capital) theatre a stock comic character originating in the commedia dell'arte; the foppish lover of Columbine in the English harlequinade. He is usually represented in diamond-patterned multicoloured tights, wearing a black mask
a clown or buffoon

adjective

varied in colour or decoration
(of certain animals) having a white coat with irregular patches of black or other dark colourharlequin Great Dane
comic; ludicrous

Word Origin for harlequin

C16: from Old French Herlequin, Hellequin leader of band of demon horsemen, perhaps from Middle English Herle king (unattested) King Herle, mythical being identified with Woden
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