Class Clown – Meaning, Origin and Usage

Are you looking at a classmate that's acting up to gain attention? You could call them the 'class clown.' This post unpacks the meaning and origin of this expression.


The expression 'class clown' means a student at school who tries to gain classmates' attention through classroom antics. They may insult the teacher, crack jokes, and generally act foolishly. Typically, the class clown is not academically gifted and values being popular more than concentrating on their studies.

The class clown is different from a class bully, and they don't use violence to get attention. Instead, they rely on humor and comedy to get attention from others. The class clown doesn't usually get respect from their classmates, and most of them don't realize that the class is laughing at them, not with them.

Example Usage

“Tom is the class clown. He’s always telling jokes and acting the fool during lessons. Some students enjoy his antics, but I think he’s just childish.”

“I’m tired of being the class clown. It’s time to make a change and do more with the opportunity I have. From now on, I’m going to ensure I pay attention in class.”

“Tim is the class clown. Everyone adores him and we all laugh when he makes the teacher life miserable. He’s cool, but I doubt he’ll have the smarts to go to college.”


The expression ‘class clown’ has disputed origins. Language experts are unsure of when the phrase first appears in English. However, the term ‘Clowne,’ appeared in the 1560s as a reference to someone with coarse manners or a rustic look.

While the word is a reference to a ‘professional fool,’ its meaning changed during the late 1920s. The new meaning of ‘clown’ changed to someone presenting inappropriate behavior.

As the 1900s led to changes in classroom schooling, the term ‘class clown’ appeared. However, language experts don’t know who coined the term or when it first appeared in writing.

Phrases Similar to Class Clown

  • Joker.
  • Idiot.

Phrases Opposite to Class Clown

  • Class President.

What is the Correct Saying?

  • Class clown.

Ways People May Say Class Clown Incorrectly

A class clown exhibits clownish behavior in an attempt to gain attention. However, the class clown doesn't dress up like a clown using makeup, wigs, and costumes. The class clown is often not aware that they hold this title.

Acceptable Ways to Phrase Class Clown

You can use the phrase 'class clown' to describe anyone that acts like a fool around others but behaves differently when alone or around authority figures at home. The term suits social and professional use. For instance, the class clown could describe a student in your daughter's class who acts irrationally to gain attention.

Or, you could use it at the office to describe the 'idiot in the room' that always says silly jokes and goofs around in the hope of staying on everyone's good side. However, 'the class clown' usually doesn't do anything memorable that makes them stand out. Instead, they typically create 'cringey' situations that add no value to the people around them. A class clown might be funny, but they aren't respected.

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