Does this photo make you tense up? Do the words “creepy” or “freaky” come to mind? Are your palms sweating, or is your heart rate increasing?
If you’re feeling hostile or panicked looking at this picture, you may suffer from coulrophobia, or a fear of clowns. From the ancient Greek word for “one who walks on stilts,” we get “coulro” followed by “phobia,” which is Greek for fear.
Clowns were originally meant to entertain children, so how did we end up with the “evil clown” archetype? We can thank Stephen King, whose book It from 1986 popularized the concept. Once his clown Pennywise corrupted our imaginations, there was no looking back (except to make sure a clown wasn’t following us). Here are some of the creepiest clowns we hope to never run into.