"Clowns" is a subword first learned by Lyta in 564, shortly after she learned the subword circus. Ever since that year, clowns have been an important part of circuses on The Land, though they are not always quite like the clowns of Earth's own circuses. Landian clowns may or may not dress up in funny costumes and/or makeup, and they may or may not engage in comedic physical stunts. In fact the role of the clown in circuses has no absolute definition, and varies widely from performer to performer, sometimes including roles similar to that of other circus performers, such as acrobats, musicians, or animal trainers. The one thing which is almost universal among clowns is that their main goal is to make people laugh. Because of this, the word "clown" has come to be used as slang for anyone who is being funny or acting silly.
It should be noted that for nearly as long as there have been people who performed music for a living, there have been people who performed comedy. However, it was rare if not unheard of for a person on the Land to get by just by performing comedy; comedy was always at best a secondary part of a performance, so such people would be known simply by the job title of their primary skill (such as illusionist or minstrel, for example). It is only in the last hundred years or so that some people have begun performing comedy as their main act, and so people called them clowns, even though they may have had no affiliation with any circus. When Demos Royal became king in 905, one of his earliest acts was to hire a "royal clown" by the name of Giac Thesaurus, whose own role is more similar to that of Earth's medieval "court jesters" or "fools." However, Giac, as well as various other modern non-circus comedy performers prefer to be called "comedians," another term which comes from Earth, but which could just as easily have been coined by Landians as a direct derivation of the word "comedy." Thus far these comedians, however, have had little success in getting people to stop referring to them as clowns. (Giac's own case is not helped by the fact that, unlike most comedians, his job requires him to dress like a clown, per the king's wishes.)