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

  • n. A conventional buffoon of the commedia dell'arte, traditionally presented in a mask and parti-colored tights.
  • n. A clown; a buffoon.
  • adj. Having a pattern of brightly colored diamond shapes.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • n. a pantomime fool, typically dressed in checkered clothes
  • adj. brightly coloured, especially in a pattern like that of a harlequin clown's clothes
  • v. To remove or conjure away, as if by a harlequin's trick.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • n. A buffoon, dressed in party-colored clothes, who plays tricks, often without speaking, to divert the bystanders or an audience; a merry-andrew; originally, a droll rogue of Italian comedy.
  • intransitive v. To play the droll; to make sport by playing ludicrous tricks.
  • transitive v. To remove or conjure away, as by a harlequin's trick.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • n. In early Italian and later in French comedy, the buffoon or clown, one of the regular character-types.
  • n. Hence A buffoon in general; a fantastic fellow; a droll.
  • n. In entomology, the magpie-moth, Abraxas grossulariata.
  • n. The Oriental or noble opal.
  • Party-colored; extremely or fantastically variegated in color: specifically applied in zoölogy to sundry animals.
  • Differing in color or decoration; fancifully varied, as a set of dishes. See harlequin service, below.
  • To play the droll; make sport by playing ludicrous tricks.
  • To remove as if by a harlequin's trick; conjure away.

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

  • n. a clown or buffoon (after the Harlequin character in the commedia dell'arte)
  • v. variegate with spots or marks


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

Obsolete French, from Old French Herlequin, Hellequin, a demon, perhaps from Middle English *Herleking, from Old English Herla cyning, King Herla, a mythical figure identified with Woden.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

From Middle Dutch hellekijn ("little hell"), then in French hellequin and in Italian Arlecchino, the name of a popular servant character in commedia dell'arte plays from Old French *Harlequin, Halequin, Herlequin, Hellequin ("a demon, malevolent spirit") ultimately from Middle English Herleking, from Old English Herla Cyning ("King Herla"), a mythical figure identified with Woden.


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  • There is also a man with a black face, who is a kind of devil, and called harlequin; at one time he appears, and at another time hides himself, and sometimes attaches himself to the others, and taking the hands of the dancing girls, he dances with them; he then scampers off, and taking a leap, he jumps through a window.

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  • This is called the harlequin bug from its fantastic appearance.

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  • After some vain researches the French consul, M. de St. Sauveur, told me that the harlequin was a young lady of rank, and that the columbine was a handsome young man.

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  • Ryan was born with a rare genetic skin disorder called harlequin ichthyosis where the skin sheds seven to 10 times faster than normal. - Local News

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