Definitions

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

  • n. A clown; a buffoon.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • n. Alternative spelling of Merry Andrew.; clown; buffoon.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • n. One whose business is to make sport for others; a buffoon; a zany; especially, one who attends a mountebank or quack doctor.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • n. One whose business it is to make sport for others by jokes and ridiculous posturing; a buffoon; a clown.

from WordNet 3.0 Copyright 2006 by Princeton University. All rights reserved.

  • n. a person who amuses others by ridiculous behavior

Etymologies

merry + the name Andrew.
(American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition)

Examples

  • Molière, in his best pieces, is as superior to the pure but cold Terence, and to the buffoon Aristophanes, as to the merry-andrew Dancourt.

    A Philosophical Dictionary

  • And after a few efforts to better her condition she grew cautious, and hesitated discreetly before returning one of those ingenuous answers which, in the beginning, had made her the merry-andrew of the class.

    The Getting of Wisdom

  • His habit was very proper for a merry-andrew, being a dirty calico, with hanging sleeves, tassels, and cuts and slashes almost on every side: it covered a taffety vest, so greasy as to testify that his honour must be a most exquisite sloven.

    The Further Adventures Of Robinson Crusoe

  • We had about half a dozen men, mostly trudging on foot, and but slightly armed, commanded by Selameh; and one of them, named Salem, was the merry-andrew of the party, full of verbal and practical jokes.

    Byeways in Palestine

  • The excessively tall and the excessively short Germans who talked into one another's teeth; the young person who sang coon songs in a fashion not negro, but all her own; the giant with a boutonniere which a midget mounted a step-ladder to spray; the famous plump beauty whom Shelby whispered she resembled -- all the merry-andrew company won her laughter and applause.

    The Henchman

  • One of the company added, "A merry-andrew, a buffoon."

    The Ontario Readers: The High School Reader, 1886

  • But this proves to be the note of Paillasse, a merry-andrew.

    The Mirror of Literature, Amusement, and Instruction Volume 12, No. 347, December 20, 1828

  • This last mentioned person had been bred with an apothecary, and sometimes travelled the country in the high capacity of a quack doctor, at others, in the more humble station of a merry-andrew.

    Lives of the Most Remarkable Criminals Who have been Condemned and Executed for Murder, the Highway, Housebreaking, Street Robberies, Coining or other offences

  • But its chief modern interest lies in the tradition that Swift once observed that he "had not laughed above twice" in his life, -- once at the tricks of a merry-andrew, and again when Fielding's Tom Thumb killed the ghost.

    Henry Fielding: a Memoir

  • It was a new system which had come into fashion: the most plastic performances spoiled by the juxtaposition of their caricatures; acrobats, Olympian gods, parodied by a merry-andrew in a ridiculous coat: just as though Nunkie Fuchs, for instance, had taken it into his head to appear with his Three Graces and mimic their tricks, kicking about at the end of a wire with his fat, fatherly paunch and his round, silly face.

    The Bill-Toppers

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