Definitions

from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 5th Edition.

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

from The Century Dictionary.

  • To play the droll; make sport by playing ludicrous tricks.
  • To remove as if by a harlequin's trick; conjure away.
  • noun In early Italian and later in French comedy, the buffoon or clown, one of the regular character-types.
  • noun Hence A buffoon in general; a fantastic fellow; a droll.
  • noun In entomology, the magpie-moth, Abraxas grossulariata.
  • noun 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.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English.

  • noun 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.
  • noun (Zoöl.) an Indian bat (Scotophilus ornatus), curiously variegated with white spots.
  • noun (Zoöl.) a very large South American beetle (Acrocinus longimanus) having very long legs and antennæ. The elytra are curiously marked with red, black, and gray.
  • noun (Zoöl.) See Calicoback.
  • noun (Zoöl.) the larva of an American bombycid moth (Euchætes egle) which is covered with black, white, yellow, and orange tufts of hair.
  • noun (Zoöl.) a North American duck (Histrionicus histrionicus). The male is dark ash, curiously streaked with white.
  • noun (Zoöl.) See Magpie Moth.
  • noun See Opal.
  • noun (Zoöl.) See harlequin snake in the vocabulary.
  • transitive verb To remove or conjure away, as by a harlequin's trick.
  • intransitive verb To play the droll; to make sport by playing ludicrous tricks.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License.

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

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

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

Etymologies

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.

Examples

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