CLOWN (derived by Fuller, in his Worthies, from Lat. colonus, a husbandman; but apparently connected with "clod" and with similar forms in Teutonic and Scandinavian languages), a rustic, boorish person; the comic character in English pantomime, always dressed in baggy costume, with face whitened and eccentrically painted, and a tufted wig. The character probably descends from representations of the devil in medieval miracle-plays, developed partly through the stage rustics and partly through the fools or jesters (also called clowns) of the Elizabethan drama. The whitened face and baggy costume indicate a connexion also with the continental Pierrot. The prominence of the clown in pantomime (q.v.) is a comparatively modern development as compared with that of Harlequin.
Note - this article incorporates content from Encyclopaedia Britannica, Eleventh Edition, (1910-1911)