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punchinello (pun-chuh-NEL-o) noun

1. A short, fat buffoon, principal character in an Italian puppet show.
2. A grotesque person.

[From Italian (Naples dialect) polecenella (a character in Italian puppet shows), diminutive of pollecena (turkey pullet), ultimately from Latin pullus (young chicken). From the resemblance of punchinello's nose to a turkey's beak.]

"Unlike Mr. Donahue, she doesn't automatically sympathize with every oddball and Punchinello who feels mistreated by 'straight society' (a phrase, believe it or not, that still rolls off Mr. Donahue's tongue)."
Martha Bayles; Oprah vs. Phil: Warmth Wins Out; The Wall Street Journal (New York); Jan 26, 1987.

This week's theme: Words derived from fictional characters


Worry is interest paid on trouble before it comes due. -William R. Inge, clergyman, scholar, and author (1860-1954)

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