Definify.com

Webster 1913 Edition


Zany

Za′ny

,
Noun.
;
pl.
Zanies
.
[It.
zanni
a buffoon, merry-andrew, orig. same as
Giovanni
John, i. e., merry John, L.
Ioannes
, Gr. [GREEK], Heb.
Yōkhānān
, prop., the Lord graciously gave: cf. F.
zani
, fr. the Italian. Cf.
Jenneting
.]
A merry-andrew; a buffoon.
Then write that I may follow, and so be
Thy echo, thy debtor, thy foil, thy
zany
.
Donne.
Preacher at once, and
zany
of thy age.
Pope.

Za′ny

,
Verb.
T.
To mimic.
[Obs.]
Your part is acted; give me leave at distance
To
zany
it.
Massinger.

Webster 1828 Edition


Zany

ZANY

,
Noun.
A merry andrew; a buffoon.

Definition 2021


zany

zany

English

The clown brothers Albert, François and Paul Fratellini, of the famous Italian Fratellini family, in 1932

Adjective

zany (comparative zanier, superlative zaniest)

  1. Unusual and bizarre in a funny, comical way; outlandish; clownish.
    • 1999, Alyn Shipton, “Gillespiana”, in Groovin' High: The Life of Dizzy Gillespie, Oxford: Oxford University Press, ISBN 978-0-19-509132-8, page 293:
      Press articles emphasized his [Dizzy Gillespie's] ambassadorial role and drew attention to the paradox that he was a shrewd musician and leader despite his zany image.
    • 2000, Alan H. Levy, Rube Waddell: The Zany, Brilliant Life of a Strikeout Artist, Jefferson, N.C.: London: McFarland & Company, ISBN 978-0-7864-0786-6, page 241:
      When playing for Connie Mack, Rube [Waddell]'s pattern after one of his zany outbursts usually involved promises of good behavior and a spurt of excellent pitching.
    • 2013, William Paul, “No Escaping the Depression: Utopian Comedy and the Aesthetics of Escapism in Frank Capra's You Can't Take it with You (1938)”, in Andrew Horton and Joanna E. Rapf, editors, A Companion to Film Comedy, Chichester, West Sussex: John Wiley & Sons, ISBN 978-1-4443-3859-1, page 280:
      This runs counter to the play, where Grandpa is always benignly indulgent of all his zany progeny and their equally zany spouses, and is even somewhat zany himself.
    • 2015, Kimberly D. Nettles-Barcelón, “The Sassy Black Cook and the Return of the Magic Negress: Popular Representations of Black Women's Food Work”, in Jennifer Jensen Wallach, editor, Dethroning the Deceitful Pork Chop: Rethinking African American Foodways from Slavery to Obama, Fayetteville, Ark.: University of Arkansas Press, ISBN 978-1-55728-679-6, page 117:
      The montage goes on to show scenes of Carla singing, dancing, meditating, breaking the tension amongst her co-cheftestants with sing-a-longs and “hootie-hoo” lessons, and ultimately wooing the judges with a combination of her zany personality and solid cooking skills.
  2. Ludicrously or incongruously comical.

Synonyms

Derived terms

Translations

Noun

zany (plural zanies)

  1. (obsolete) A fool or clown, especially one whose business on the stage is to imitate foolishly the actions of the principal clown.
    • John Donne:
      Then write that I may follow, and so be / Thy echo, thy debtor, thy foil, thy zany.
    • Alexander Pope:
      Preacher at once, and zany of thy age.
    • 1898, J. Meade Falkner, Moonfleet Chapter 4
      So there he caught me lying like a zany on the ground. You may guess I stood at attention soon enough, but told him I was looking at the founds to see if they wanted underpinning from the floods.
    • 1996, Fiona Haslam, From Hogarth to Rowlandson: Medicine in Art in Eighteenth-century Britain, Liverpool: Liverpool University Press, ISBN 978-0-85323-640-5, page 69:
      Part of the illusory world is the 'quack' or mountebank who can be seen standing on his own special platform in the centre of the crowd []. Such a person travelled round to fairs and markets selling his nostrums or medicines. This character is dressed in a lace hat, long periwig and embroidered coat with lace cuffs, and is attended by his zany, who is wearing a chequered harlequin outfit and is 'quacking' or 'puffing' his master's wares. No seventeenth- or eighteenth-century mountebank was complete without his zany or 'Merry Andrew' – a term originally applied to Dr Andrew Boorde, physician to Henry VIII and noted for his ready wit and humour, who was the subject of many broadside ballads.

Verb

zany (third-person singular simple present zanies, present participle zanying, simple past and past participle zanied)

  1. (obsolete) To mimic foolishly.

References