zany [zey-nee] SynonymsExamplesWord Origin See more synonyms for zany on adjective, za·ni·er, za·ni·est.

  1. ludicrously or whimsically comical; clownish.

noun, plural za·nies.

  1. one who plays the clown or fool in order to amuse others.
  2. a comically wild or eccentric person.
  3. a secondary stock character in old comedies who mimicked his master.
  4. a professional buffoon; clown.
  5. a silly person; simpleton.
  6. 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 JohnRelated formsza·ni·ly, adverbza·ni·ness, za·ny·ism, nounza·ny·ish, adjectiveSynonyms for zany See more synonyms for on 3. kook, crazy, lunatic. Related Words for zany kooky, eccentric, wacky, madcap, goofy, sappy, loony, comical, campy, fool, camp, screwball, idiot, nut, jester, clown, wag, joker, moron, comedian Examples from the Web for zany Contemporary Examples of zany

  • A remembrance of the zany, ad-libbing actor who made us laugh and cry.

    Robin Williams, Hollywood’s Grand Jester, Is Dead at 63

    Marlow Stern

    August 12, 2014

  • The proliferation of zany burger toppings came next as an inevitable by-product of the high-end burger fad.

    Have We Reached ‘Peak Burger’? The Crazy Fetishization of Our Most Basic Comfort Food

    Brandon Presser

    July 31, 2014

  • It was the zany TV interview he conducted with Cleveland ABC affiliate WEWS-TV that made him an instant viral celebrity.

    Kai the Hatchet-Wielding Hitchhiker, Viral Star, Now an Alleged Killer

    Marlow Stern

    May 17, 2013

  • Look at her zany appearance with Dave Letterman about tweeting on Ambien for proof of that.

    Kristin Chenoweth on Her Darker Role in ‘Family Weekend’

    Kevin Fallon

    March 27, 2013

  • Aside from the zany plot, the film stretches the bounds of realism thanks to its bloody zombie kills.

    The Anti-‘Zero Dark Thirty:’ The Osama bin Laden-Meets-Zombies Movie

    Marlow Stern

    December 14, 2012

  • Historical Examples of zany

  • In the zany we see an example of creation; in the humorist, of transmission.

    The Devil’s Dictionary

    Ambrose Bierce

  • The zany was progenitor to the specialist in humor, as we to-day have the unhappiness to know him.

    The Devil’s Dictionary

    Ambrose Bierce

  • They sometimes acted the part of a fool or zany (morio), or of a madman.

    A History of Caricature and Grotesque

    Thomas Wright

  • The explanation of it was that the Shawanoe was a zany or lunatic.

    Blazing Arrow

    Edward S. Ellis

  • Boswell’s Tour of the Hebrides was “the story of a mountebank and his zany.”

    The London Mercury, Vol. I, Nos. 1-6, November 1919 to April 1920


  • British Dictionary definitions for zany zany adjective -nier or -niest

    1. comical in an endearing way; imaginatively funny or comical, esp in behaviour

    noun plural -nies

    1. a clown or buffoon, esp one in old comedies who imitated other performers with ludicrous effect
    2. a ludicrous or foolish person

    Derived Formszanily, adverbzaniness, nounzanyism, nounWord 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 Word Origin and History for zany 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.


    1869, from zany (n.). Related: Zanily; zaniness.

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