Green’s Dictionary of Slang

clown v.

also clown on
[i.e. to make into a fig. clown]

1. (US black) to ridicule, to humiliate.

[US]D. Burke Street Talk 2 51: ‘Why are you clownin’?’ – ‘Why are you belittling me?’.
[US]UGK ‘976-Bun B’ [lyrics] I clown on hoes to leave their pussyhole frownin.
[US]Ebonics Primer at [Internet] clown Definition: 1. to get played 2. to play someone. Example: The pimp gots clowned by that crackers ass cop.
[US]Teen Lingo: The Source for Youth Ministry [Internet] clownin’ v. to make fun of someone. ‘Man, you tryin to clown on me?’.
[US]‘Dutch’ ? (Pronounced Que) [ebook] Just go at him and clown him about me takin’ his whip. A’ight?

2. to defeat in a humiliating manner.

[US]Eble Campus Sl. Nov. 2: clown – defeat to the point of embarrassment: We got clowned by Maryland.

In phrases

clown (around) (v.) (also clown about)

to play the fool.

[US]M. West Pleasure Man (1997) Act I: I’ll run the whole gang of you off the stage if you don’t cut out your clowning.
[US]F. Nebel ‘Winter Kill’ in Goulart (1967) 135: ‘You’ll never get to be President doing this, Jerry.’ ‘You will clown won’t you?’.
[US]N. Davis ‘Don’t Give Your Right Name’ in Goulart (1967) 19: Let’s not clown around.
[US]N. Algren Never Come Morning (1988) 174: You’re gettin’ two warm meals a day n’ liquor for gettin’ customers ’n bouncin’ drunks, not for clownin’ for the girls.
[US]J.D. MacDonald All These Condemned (2001) 133: I got up and clowned it, doing my Kid Jonah, the Boston Butcher Boy.
[US]‘Ed McBain’ Killer’s Wedge (1981) 81: Had the loot meant something? Or was he just clowning around?
[UK]G. Lambert Inside Daisy Clover (1966) 173: Is it just someone called Daisy Clover who sings and clowns around and makes a lot of money?
[US]L. Rosten Dear ‘Herm’ 14: So please, old buddy, cut the clowning around.
[US]H. Ellison All the Lies in Shatterday (1982) 177: Okay, take it easy. I’m just clowning.
[UK]Guardian G2 23 Aug. 4: Frank Bruno is clowning about.
[UK]Guardian Guide 1–6 Jan. 11: Everybody’s screaming and clowning around and all that stuff.