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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 ?
Never before or since have I seen such a presentation ceremony, and to their credit all the band representatives called to the stage to collect trophies, played their part, acting the fool with the extremely talented artist.
I think it is the duty of elected MPs responsibly and seriously to discharge their duties to constituents and to refrain from acting the fool on their behalf.
Keith Chegwin was told to stop acting the fool and take his routine seriously, skating to the Jackson Five's I'll Be There, shoehorned into a pink satin sequined shirt.
But as Susan begins to sing Barrymore starts acting the fool and lolls about on the floor trying to get a glimpse up her skirt.
I have found my niche in life entertaining, acting the fool.
The truth is the egocentric maniac will be unable to sustain a 10-month campaign by saying "crikey" and acting the fool.
He is constantly telling gags and acting the fool, which can be quite exhausting for mere mortals,' she commented SIR NORMAN WISDOM Gala Dinner - Adelphi Hotel, Liverpool, tomorrow, 7pm for 7.
Mario was really depressed about scoring only two points in that match rather than acting the fool.
But as she begins to sing Barrymore starts acting the fool and lolls about on the floor trying to get a glimpse up her skirt.
Russel Erwood acting the fool and, left, one of his amazing tricks - balancing a burning BBQ on his chin