American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition
- n. A ludicrous, buffoonish character in old comedies who attempts feebly to mimic the tricks of the clown.
- n. A comical person given to extravagant or outlandish behavior.
- adj. Ludicrously comical; clownish.
- adj. Comical because of incongruity or strangeness; bizarre.
Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia
- n. A comic performer, originating on the Italian stage, whose function it is to make awkward attempts at mimicking the tricks of the professional clown, or the acts of other performers; hence, an apish buffoon in general; a merry-andrew; an amusing fool.
- n. . An attendant.
- n. Synonyms Clown, Fool, Buffoon, Mimic, Zany. “The zany in Shakespere's day was not so much a buffoon and mimic as the obsequious follower of a buffoon and the attenuated mime of a mimic. He was the vice, servant, or attendant of the professional clown or fool, who, dressed like his master, accompanied him on the stage or in the ring, following his movements, imitating his tricks. and adding to the general merriment by his ludicrous failures and comic imbecility … The professional clown or fool might be clever and accomplished in his business, a skilful tumbler and mountebank, doing what he undertook to do thoroughly and well. But this was never the case with the zany. He was always slight and thin, well-meaning, but comparatively helpless, full of readiness, grimace, and alacrity, but also of incompetence. eagerly trying to imitate his superior, but ending in failure and absurdity … We have ourselves seen the clown and the zany in the ring together, the clown doing clever tricks, the zany provoking immense laughter by his ludicrous failures in attempting to imitate them. Where there is only a single clown. he often combines both the characters, doing skilful tumbling on his own account, and playing the zany to the riders.” (Edinburgh Rev., July, 1869, art. 4.)
- To play the zany to; mimic; imitate apishly.
GNU Webster's 1913
- n. A merry-andrew; a buffoon.
- v. obsolete To mimic.
- n. a man who is a stupid incompetent fool
- adj. like a clown
- n. a buffoon in one of the old comedies; imitates others for ludicrous effect
- adj. ludicrous, foolish
- From Italian zanni (a kind of masked clown character), itself (when capitalized) a dialectal form of Giovanni. (Wiktionary)
- French zani, from Italian dialectal zanni, from Zanni, variant of Italian Gianni, nickname for Giovanni, John, the name of servants who act as clowns in commedia dell'arte. (American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition)
“The former Massachusetts governor has been going negative on Gingrich, using the word "zany" in a New York Times interview Wednesday to make the point that whoever GOP voters choose as their White House nominee will need to have "sobriety.”
“I don't know too many people who use the word 'zany,'" Axelrod told Fox News”
“Gingrich's remarks at the Republican debate Thursday night were aimed at rival Mitt Romney, who in an interview on Wednesday used the word "zany" to describe the former House speaker.”
“Many images involve cute little medicine pills, pieces of candy, or sushi rolls gen-bap engaging in zany hijinks and speaking in talk-bubbles.”
“Those reported to have lost houses in the community dubbed "America's Riviera" included actor Christopher Lloyd, best known as the zany scientist in "Back to the Future".”
“Those reported to have lost houses in the community dubbed "America's Riviera" included actor Christopher Lloyd, best known as the zany scientist in the "Back to the Future" movies.”
“That he would use this term, as well as the equally condescending "zany" in referring to this latter comedy makes his valuation of it clear enough, but later he also remarks that "Evelyn Waugh, alas, still represents the great image of English comedy in the 20th century, rather than his subtler and gentler contemporary, Henry Green.”
“It can be "zany" or not (Beckett is zany in Waiting for Godot, not in How It Is or The Unnameable, but the effect is the same).”
“Oh boy more "zany" exploits from the annoying mom character.”
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