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How to pronounce harlequin (audio)


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Dictionary definition of harlequin

A comedic servant or clown-like figure.
"With a mischievous grin, the harlequin played a prank on the unsuspecting traveler."


Detailed meaning of harlequin

The term refers to a character from traditional Italian Commedia dell'arte theater, known for their distinct and colorful attire. The character's costume consists of a tight-fitting suit adorned with colorful diamond-shaped patches or checks, creating a vibrant and whimsical appearance. Harlequin is often portrayed as mischievous, agile, and quick-witted, engaging in slapstick humor and physical comedy. The character is known for their acrobatic movements and exaggerated gestures, captivating the audience with their lively antics. Harlequin's role is to entertain and bring laughter through their humorous interactions with other characters in the play. Over time, the term "harlequin" has also come to refer to a pattern or design characterized by a colorful assortment of diamond shapes, reminiscent of the character's distinctive costume.

Example sentences containing harlequin

1. The harlequin's vibrant costume sparkled under the stage lights.
2. The harlequin’s diamond-patterned attire is iconic in Italian Commedia dell’arte.
3. The audience erupted in laughter as the harlequin effortlessly juggled five balls.
4. The harlequin's agility and acrobatic skills made him a crowd favorite.
5. In the play, the harlequin tries to woo the maiden with his charm and wit.
6. The harlequin's mask concealed his true emotions from the audience.

History and etymology of harlequin

The noun 'harlequin' has a fascinating etymology that is rooted in the world of theater and comedy. It originated in the 16th century and is associated with the character of Harlequin, a comedic servant or clown-like figure in traditional Italian commedia dell'arte, a form of improvisational theater. The name 'Harlequin' is thought to have been derived from the Old French word 'hellequin,' which referred to a demon or spirit of the wild hunt in medieval folklore. This association with mischief and the supernatural aligns with the mischievous and playful nature of the character. Over time, Harlequin became a beloved figure in European theater, known for his acrobatics, slapstick humor, and distinctive diamond-patterned costume. The etymology of 'harlequin' reflects the character's origins in both folklore and the rich history of theatrical entertainment.

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Further usage examples of harlequin

1. The actor portraying the harlequin showed great physical comedy skills.
2. The harlequin’s slapstick humor was infectious, leaving the crowd in stitches.
3. The harlequin character is often portrayed as both clever and foolish.
4. The harlequin had a knack for turning ordinary objects into comedic props.
5. His harlequin performance brought a touch of traditional Italian theater to the festival.
6. The harlequin and the pantomime interacted in a hilarious mime routine.
7. With a flourish of his baton, the harlequin conducted the orchestra in a zany manner.
8. The harlequin's role in the Commedia dell'arte is that of a light-hearted and nimble trickster.
9. The harlequin's multicolored attire made him stand out amidst the other characters.
10. The harlequin's elaborate movements and gestures were a delight to watch.
11. The harlequin made his entrance by somersaulting onto the stage.
12. The harlequin's antics were inspired by the traditional Italian Commedia dell'arte characters.
13. The playful harlequin managed to outwit the pompous nobleman in the skit.
14. The harlequin's colorful costume brought laughter to the carnival.
15. In the play, the harlequin's witty antics stole the show.
16. Children giggled as the harlequin performed funny tricks.
17. The harlequin's mask concealed his identity and added mystery.
18. The harlequin's role in the comedy was both mischievous and endearing.
19. His portrayal of the harlequin was a masterclass in physical comedy.
20. The harlequin's exaggerated movements kept the audience entertained.
21. The harlequin's slapstick humor delighted theatergoers of all ages.
22. The harlequin's role was to lighten the mood with humor.
23. The harlequin's painted smile was both eerie and captivating.
24. The harlequin's character has been a fixture in comedy for centuries.



jester, tragedian, serious, solemn


ACT 12 (American College Testing), Creativity and Originality, Entertainment and Performance

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