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Literally translated from Spanish, Matador means killer. In bullfighting, the Matador (or Toreador) is the performer who kills the bull. Rarely, matadors themselves are instead killed by bulls; this possibility is said to be central to the nature of bullfighting.

The term is also used in the sport of rodeo as a substitution for the less-dignified 'Rodeo clown' where so-called 'matadors' are brightly dressed individuals present in the ring during bullriding. When the bull rider dismounts (or has been thrown), the matadors distract the bull to discourage it from injuring its former rider. The matadors' job is particularly important when the rider has been injured and is unable to evade the bull. The term matador is used because the manner of dress resembles the troce de luces worn by matadors in bullfighting, and also because the techniques employed in distracting the bull bear a passing resemblance to the activities of matadors in bullfighting. However, matadors in rodeo do not kill the bull, making the word something of a misnomer. See also Straw_man.

Ernest Hemingway is an American author who aspired to be a matador. His novel, The Sun Also Rises, has autobiographical elements and includes bullfighting themes.