Synonyms Word Origin adjective, za·ni·er, za·ni·est. ludicrously or whimsically comical; clownish. one who plays the clown or fool in order to amuse others. a comically wild or eccentric person. a secondary stock character in old comedies who mimicked his master. a professional buffoon; clown. a silly person; simpleton. a slavish attendant or follower. Origin of zany 1560–70; (< Middle French) < Italian zan(n)i (later zanno) a servant character in the commedia dell’arte, perhaps orig. the character's name, the Upper Italian form of Tuscan Gianni, for Giovanni John Related forms za·ni·ly, adverb za·ni·ness, za·ny·ism, noun za·ny·ish, adjective
Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018
British Dictionary definitions for zanily adjective -nier or -niest comical in an endearing way; imaginatively funny or comical, esp in behaviour a clown or buffoon, esp one in old comedies who imitated other performers with ludicrous effect a ludicrous or foolish person Derived Forms zanily, adverb zaniness, noun zanyism, noun Word Origin for zany
C16: from Italian
zanni, from dialect (Venice and Lombardy) Zanni, nickname for Giovanni John; one of the traditional names for a clown
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
Word Origin and History for zanily adj.
zany (n.). Related: Zanily; zaniness. n.
comic performer, 1580s, from French
zani, from Italian zani, zanni "a zany, clown," originally Zanni, Venetian dialect variant of Gianni, pet form of Giovanni "John." A stock character in old comedies, he aped the principal actors.
Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper