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court jester,

a person who entertains with buffoonery and an often caustic wit. In all countries from ancient times and extending into the 18th cent., mental and physical deformity provided amusement. Attached to noble and royal courts were dwarfs, cripples, idiots, albinos, and freaks. The medieval court fool was seldom mentally deficient. For the freedom to indulge in satire, tricks, and repartee, many men of keen insight and caustic wit obtained powerful patronage by assuming the role of fool. This role was played in the courts of the East, in ancient Greece and Rome, and in the court of Montezuma. The clownclown,
a comic character usually distinguished by garish makeup and costume whose antics are both humorously clumsy and acrobatic. The clown employs a broad, physical style of humor that is wordless or not as self-consciously verbal as the traditional fool or jester.
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 or jester was common in Elizabethan drama (e.g., the Fool in King Lear), and by donning the fool's garb the actor gained the freedom of the fool. His costume, which was hung with bells, usually consisted of a varicolored coat, tight breeches with legs of different colors—occasionally a long petticoat was worn—and a bauble (mock scepter) and a cap which fitted close to the head or fell over the shoulders in the form of asses' ears. Till Eulenspiegel and Robin Goodfellow are mythical fools.


See B. Swain, Fools and Folly (1932); E. Welsford, The Fool (1936, repr. 1961); S. Billington, A Social History of the Fool (1984).


(formerly) a professional jester living in a royal or noble household


Fool's Lisp. A small Scheme interpreter.
References in periodicals archive ?
html) The New York Times reported that young people fooled others into thinking friends had been assassinated, arrested and kidnapped at the hands of American or Iraqi forces.
Probably the most famous April Fool's day stunt was carried out in 1957 when Richard Dimbleby did a report on Panorama about the failure of the spaghetti tree harvest in Italy, which had thousands of people fooled.
com/ Don't be fooled by its name: The Motley Fool offers a huge amount of serious investment advice and information, presented with lively writing and a sense of fun.
Since December 1986 they have been comparing a fooled group with a nonmanipulated group.
Experiments performed on consumers found that the average participant consumed nearly 10 percent less with the glasses on, after the brain was fooled to think the portion was a larger size.
You're not going to be fooled by someone who thinks they can have a second chance Pisces, so maybe it's time to let them know you're onto them?
In 1997 millions were fooled by an email from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, which said the internet was closing down for spring-cleaning.