Etymology
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clowning (n.)

"playing the clown," 1848, verbal noun from clown (v.).

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Definitions of clowning

clowning (n.)
acting like a clown or buffoon;
Synonyms: buffoonery / japery / frivolity / harlequinade / prank
clowning (n.)
a comic incident or series of incidents;
Synonyms: drollery / comedy / funniness
From wordnet.princeton.edu