1. a comic character in Commedia dell’arte and the Harlequinade, usually masked, dressed in multicoloured, diamond-patterned tights, and carrying a wooden sword or magic wand.
2. a buffoon; a type of clown.
3. any of various small snakes having bright diamond-pattern scales.
4. fancifully varied in colour, decoration, etc.
5. resembling a harlequin’s mask.
Etymology: French, Middle French (h) arlequin, semantically (and in part phonetically) < Italian arlecchino < Middle French, phonetically continuing Old French *harlequin, halequin - a malevolent spirit.