Definitions

from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

  • n. The short fat buffoon or clown in an Italian puppet show.
  • n. One who resembles a short fat clown.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • proper n. A traditional Italian puppet, in the form of a short fat clown.
  • proper n. Somebody who resembles this puppet.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • n. A punch; a buffoon; originally, in a puppet show, a character represented as fat, short, and humpbacked.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • n. [lowercase] A puppet; specifically, a popular puppet of Italian origin, the prototype of Punch. See Punch.
  • n. Any grotesque or absurd personage, likened to the familiar character of the popular comedy in Italy.

Etymologies

Variant of Polichinello, from Italian dialectal Pollecinella, diminutive of pollecena, turkey pullet (from the resemblance between its beak and Punchinello's nose), ultimately from Latin pullus, young chicken; see pullet.
(American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition)

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