GC: n

S: TRINITY.EDU – (last access: 4 December 2015); HUFFINGTONPOST – (last access: 4 December 2015).

N: 1. This term is said to be built from Greek kolon “limb,” with some supposed sense of “stilt-walker,” hence “clown” + -phobia (from Latin -phobia and directly from Greek -phobia “panic fear of,” from phobos “fear”).
Perhaps it is a mangling of Modern Greek klooun “clown,” which is the English word borrowed into Greek.
2. This word means “morbid fear of clowns”. The whole creation looks suspiciously like the sort of thing idle pseudo-intellectuals invent on the Internet (Web sites to date from 1990s or even 1980s).
Scientists and doctors now agree that the fear is the result of not knowing who lies behind the clown’s figure, due to:

  1. Faces and necks are covered in excessive makeup.
  2. Red nose and hair color.
  3. The fluidity of their dress.

3. Coulrophobia is classified as an “Other” type specific phobia within the Diagnostical and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fourth edition, Text Revision (DSM-IV-TR). This phobia is characterized by an intense or unreasonable fear that is cued by the thoughts or actual presence of clowns. A person with coulrophobia would likely have an immediate anxiety reaction (e.g., heart racing, feelings of dread, shortness of breath, sweating, hyperventilating), when exposed to a clown.
Coulrophobia could be treated using either desensitization or flooding treatments. Both of them integrate clowns into the therapy.
4. Uncanny valley: The Japanese robotics researcher, Masahiro Mori, coined the term ‘uncanny valley’ in the 1970s to describe this phenomenon. The ‘valley’ is a dip in a proposed graph of the android’s likeability when it loses its machine-like characteristics and becomes too human-like.
5. Most people are aware of the evolution of the modern clown from the court jesters which have existed in most kingdoms for thousands of years in places such as Egypt, China, and Europe. The jester is in a unique position, permitted to mock and criticize the king in areas where no other can.
The English word clown first appeared in the 16th century, usually as Cloyne, Cloine, or Clowne- derived from Colonus or Clod, denoting a farmer, rustic person, a country yokel.
The first ancestor of the modern clown was Britain’s most popular entertainer during the early 1800s. Joey Grimaldi devised the standard clown’s make up of stark white face paint with bright red spots on his cheeks.
The French version was Jean-Gaspard Deburau, who was dressed as a clown called Pierrot in the traditional harlequinade.
6. Cultural Interrelation:

  • Reality: Pogo or John Wayne Gacy the “killer clown”.
  • Fiction: Pennywise the killer clown in TV movie.

1. OED – (last access: 2 December 2015). 2. OED – (last access: 2 December 2015); (last access: 5 December 2015). 3. PHOBIAS.NET – (last access: 2 December 2015). 4. CORDIS – (last access: 3 December 2015). 5. TRINITY.EDU – (last access: 2 December 2015). 6. (last access: 5 December 2015); THEGUARDIAN – (last access: 5 December 2015).


CR: phobia