coulrophobia "morbid fear of clowns," by 2001 (said in Web sites to date from 1990s or even 1980s), a popular term, not from psychology, possibly facetious, though the phenomenon is real enough; said to be built from Gk. kolon "limb," with some supposed sense of "stilt-walker," hence "clown" + -PHOBIA (Cf. -phobia); ancient Gk. words for "clown" were sklêro-paiktês, from paizein "to play (like a child);" or deikeliktas; other classical words used for theatrical clowns were related to "rustic," "peasant" (Cf. L. fossor "clown," lit. "laborer, digger," related to FOSSIL (Cf. fossil)). The whole creation looks suspiciously like the sort of thing idle pseudo-intellectuals invent on the Internet and which every smarty-pants takes up thereafter; perhaps it is a mangling of Modern Gk. klooun "clown," which is the English word borrowed into Greek.

Etymology dictionary. 2014.

Look at other dictionaries:

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