From Middle French bouffon, from Italian buffone (“jester”), from buffare (“to puff out the cheeks”), of onomatopoeic origin. Compare Middle High German buffen ("to puff"; > German büffen), Old English pyffan (“to breathe out, blow with the mouth”). More at English puff.
buffoon (plural buffoons)
- One who acts in a silly or ridiculous fashion; a clown or fool.
- 1810, W. Melmoth, transl., Letters of Pliny:
- To divert the audience with buffoon postures and antic dances.
- (derogatory) An unintentionally ridiculous person.
Usage notes edit
- In the United States the term most commonly refers to inappropriate, clownish figures on the public stage; here the behavior of a variety of public figures have caused them to be referred to as buffoons by their political opponents.
- In the United Kingdom the term is used more broadly, to refer to such people who are retained in popular regard but who nevertheless engender amusement with their pronouncements and acts.
Derived terms edit
- To behave like a buffoon
- 1988 January 22, Henry Sheehan, “Little Boy Blue”, in Chicago Reader:
- His mimicry of gay speech and facial expressions is analagous to an Amos 'n' Andy routine, in which white men buffooned their way through incredibly demeaning impersonations of black men.