clown question

Benjamin Barrett gogaku at IX.NETCOM.COM
Mon Jun 18 18:21:47 UTC 2012

FWIW, I don't see the slang meaning of "insult" (dog, cap, roast, etc.) on Wiktionary.

Urban Dictionary has it under "Clown (verb)":

 To make fun of someone in a very good natured sense, or with malicious intent, with no inbetween.
"Bob, chill out, I'm just clowning on you"
"I heard steve's car got keyed. Someone clowned all over him"

...Not sure what "inbetween means."

It also seems to have it under "clown on":

To be put to shame or ridiculed by a clown
"You just got clowned on, dog!"

"Clown on" certainly can be found on Google Books with this meaning.

By my count (or Excel's rather), Urban Dictionary has 346 entries starting with "clown," including some that differ only in spelling (space, hyphen, capitalization). Many of them are sexual, seeming to refer to people that look like clowns (too much makeup, a stupid-looking expression) or act like clowns (idiots).

Benjamin Barrett
Seattle, WA

On Jun 18, 2012, at 9:58 AM, Joel S. Berson wrote:

> Aren't they both -- the "class clown" and Harper's "clown question"
> (which I take as "question from a clown") related to the "ignorance" part of:
> OED2 "clown, n.", sense 2. "transf. A man without refinement or
> culture; an ignorant, rude, uncouth, ill-bred man."?
> Evolving from sense 1.b, "Implying ignorance, crassness, or rude
> manners: A mere rustic, a peasant."
> Both date from the 16th century, with the "peasant" association
> having dropped out because once they began claiming that they were
> better than the French the English decided to deny they had any peasants.
> Joel
> At 6/18/2012 11:08 AM, Bonnie Taylor-Blake wrote:
>> On Mon, Jun 18, 2012 at 6:50 AM, David Barnhart
>> <dbarnhart at> wrote:
>>> "You always get that class clown question. 'No, I was the class accountant,
>>> but the class comedian got sick. I stepped in, and decided I'm not giving
>>> this up.' It's the same 10 questions. Ahhhh, shut up!" [Mike]
>> MacDonald said
>>> before heading in to tape the new program.
>>> Larry McShane, "What's New In Comedy," Associated Press (Nexis), March 23,
>>> 1992, Monday, PM cycle
>> OK, but I think the distinction between this occurrence and Bryce
>> Harper's usage is that MacDonald was talking about a question related
>> to being a class clown while Harper essentially called out the
>> reporter for asking a silly/ridiculous question, one not worth his
>> time addressing.
>> (I'm going to try out "that's a clown question" this week, though not
>> with any of my superiors.)

The American Dialect Society -

More information about the Ads-l mailing list