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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 ?
SENTENCING: Judge Peter Bowers, right, who described the defendant's actions as foolhardy and dangerous
Carl Durham, co-owner of the Black Mountain activity centre, said, "Not to use a helmet while abseiling is foolhardy because it is crucial equipment.
However, as this newspaper has argued ever since these strikes were announced, choosing to target two major concerts which bring millions into the North East economy is foolhardy indeed.
Towering a good two feet over normal rail height, this seaside chunk of danger has been luring thrill seekers for several years now, ever since Australian Cale Nuske broke the ice with a foolhardy crooked grind.
Last month Chief fire officer Simon Smith told a fire authority meeting: "The complete reliance on crew (to tackle fires) borders on foolhardy.
Football is hugely important to the sporting population and it would be foolhardy to dismiss what the public wants.
It would be foolhardy for him to play in either game.
DS SEEING foolhardy celebrities being put through the mill on Hell's Kitchen might have sparked a desire for you to undertake your own culinary challenge.
Though no one has said or intimated to me that I am a bit of window-dressing, it would take a pretty bold, and I would suggest foolhardy person, to say that to my face" - Fiona Bruce, (pictured) TV news-reader and Antiques Roadshow presenter, saying that female news-readers are still often judged on their appearance.
IN September 1981 - as Steve Majors - George made a foolhardy attempt to speed down a ramp on roller skates at Long Eaton in Derbyshire and leap over four double-decker buses.
And with that threat hanging over him, to go would not be courageous but foolhardy.
The foolhardy thieves are dicing with death on rail lines used by trains travelling at 100mph.