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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 ?
He said that expecting an improvement after voting the corrupt and the plunderers was sheer foolhardiness.
Although no longer the unsullied martyred hero of Western lore or Hollywood, the famed general (reduced in rank to colonel after the Civil War) comes across as courageous, if not overly bold to the point of foolhardiness.
Central government needs to realise that these cuts are absolute foolhardiness, and show no care for the general public.
Given all the peculiarities and foolhardiness that have hampered Iranian politics, the ranks of those who administrate the country are not completely void of able and competent men.
That's the only sort of White House response the petitioners are likely to get, which underscores the foolhardiness of such a useless gesture.
These tales reveal him to be hot-headed and peppery, and brave to the point of foolhardiness, but a good man in a corner.
Much of the opprobrium and media hostility towards Bahrain stems from one small act of gross foolhardiness, which coming during the so-called Arab awakening or Spring, did enormous damage to Bahrain's reputation and coloured people's views of the country.
Military security is not well served by promoting economic foolhardiness.
Other recent references to pathetic prize-money and the growth of low-level all-weather racing as possible driving forces in corruption cases overlook the basic personal influences of greed and arrogant foolhardiness that really lie behind them.
Our state's technology and manufacturing-based economy was strong enough to weather the national recession, but can it really withstand the foolhardiness of the New Hampshire Legislature?
Gender divide for journalistic feats and bravado and foolhardiness.
Even when people are Muslims in name only and hardly ever practice Islam, tampering with anything associated with Islam is an act of foolhardiness.