Idioms and Phrasal Verbs: Just Clowning Around

clown-1456442_960_720 The man in this picture is a clown.  He has painted his face and dressed strangely to make people laugh.  Maybe he works for the circus or performs on the street for money.

We borrow the word clown to make the phrasal verb clown around.

When we clown around, we act silly.  We want others to laugh at us.   We want the mood to be less serious.  We want to have a good time.

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In school, did you know a kid who clowned around and made others laugh? We usually call these students the class clown.  The class clown is usually very popular among students, but less so among teachers.  The teacher probably says: “Stop clowning around and get to work.”  At school conferences, his mother is told: “Your son would get better grades if he wasn’t always clowning around.”  The students, however, agree that class is more fun when someone is brave and creative enough to clown around.


We don’t stop clowning around when we grow up.  We just call it something else.  We usually say goofing around.  When we goof around, we act silly.  This guy is playing air guitar at the office.

A similar phrasal verb is goof off, but the meaning is a little more negative.  When we goof off, we have stopped working and are wasting time.  Most people’s favorite way to goof off nowadays is on Facebook or Instagram.

What about you?

Were you the class clown when you were in school?

When you are goofing around at work or with friends, what do you do?

Do you ever goof off?  How?