scaramouch(e) /SKAIR-ə-moosh/. noun. A cowardly, foolish braggart. As a proper name, a stock character in Italian farce who is routinely beset by the Harlequin. From Italian scaramuccia (skirmish).
“…here he wears the Jack-Boots, there the Small-Sword; is here an Enthusiast, there a Buffoon; on this Side he acts the Mountebank, on that Side the Merry-Andrew; nothing comes amiss to him, from the Great Mogul, to the Scaramouch; the Devil is in them more or less…” (Daniel Defoe)
“…if I may lean on Perian’s punning style, The Malacia Tapestry could unfussily be retitled Tom Cojones and left at that. De Chirolo, a raffish scaramouche, is a terrible ‘one’ for the girls…” (Martin Amis)
“If you strip Peter, you will see a fellow
Scorched by Hell’s hyperequatorial climate
Into a kind of a sulphureous yellow:
A lean mark, hardly fit to fling a rhyme at;
In shape a Scaramouch, in hue Othello.”
(Percy Bysshe Shelley)
“They revelled last night in ‘Don Juan,’ whom we left in hell at half-past eleven. We had scaramouch and a ghost, and were delighted. I speak of them; my delight was very tranquil, and the rest of us were sober-minded.” (Jane Austen)
Keith wore a brown shirt of moire silk with raised stripes (its texture reminded Guy of pork crackling), hipster cream flares, and a new pair of coarse-furred ferret-like loafers (with a hint of the scaramouch or the harem-creeper in their curled tips). (Martin Amis, from London Fields)
Select Synonyms: Jack-pudding, merry andrew, jester, tomfool, farceur.