Coulrophobia [kool-ruh-foh-bee-uh] is a fear of clowns. The term is of recent origin, probably dating from the 1980s, and according to one analyst, ‘has been coined more on the Internet than in printed form because it does not appear in any previously published, psychiatric, unabridged, or abridged dictionary.’ However, the author later notes, ‘regardless of its less-than-verifiable etymology, coulrophobia exists in several lists.’ The prefix ‘coulro-‘ may be a neologism derived from an Ancient Greek word meaning ‘stilt-walker,’ although the concept of a clown as a figure of fun was unknown in classical Greek culture, stiltwalking was practiced.

According to a psychology professor at California State University, Northridge, young children are ‘very reactive to a familiar body type with an unfamiliar face.’ A study conducted by the University of Sheffield found that the children did not like clown décor in the hospital or physicians’ office settings. The survey was about children’s opinions on décor for an upcoming hospital redesign. Dr Penny Curtis, a researcher, stated ‘We found that clowns are universally disliked by children. Some found the clown images to be quite frightening and unknowable.’


One Comment to “Coulrophobia”

  1. Yeah I was terrified of clowns when I was small… Its strange though, how now I find being afraid of clowns strange.

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