From Middle French bouffon, from Italian buffone (jester), from buffare (to puff out the cheeks), of unknown origin. Compare Middle High German buffen ("to puff"; > German büffen), Old English pyffan (to breathe out, blow with the mouth). More at English puff.


  • IPA(key): /bəˈfuːn/
  • (file)
  • Rhymes: -uːn


buffoon (plural buffoons)

  1. One who acts in a silly or ridiculous fashion; a clown or fool.
    • 1810, W. Melmoth (translator), Letters of Pliny
      To divert the audience with buffoon postures and antic dances.
  2. (derogatory) An unintentionally ridiculous person.

Usage notesEdit

  • 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 termsEdit



buffoon (third-person singular simple present buffoons, present participle buffooning, simple past and past participle buffooned)

  1. To behave like a buffoon
    • 1988, January 22, “Henry Sheehan”, in Little Boy Blue[1]:
      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.