zany

noun
za·​ny | \ ˈzā-nē How to pronounce zany (audio) \
plural zanies

Definition of zany

 (Entry 1 of 2)

1 : a subordinate clown or acrobat in old comedies who mimics ludicrously the tricks of the principal : merry-andrew
2 : a slavish follower : toady
3a : one who acts the buffoon to amuse others
b : nut, kook
zanier; zaniest

Definition of zany (Entry 2 of 2)

1 : being or having the characteristics of a zany
2 : fantastically or absurdly ludicrous a zany movie

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Other Words from zany

Adjective

zanily \ ˈzā-​nə-​lē How to pronounce zanily (audio) \ adverb
zaniness \ ˈzā-​nē-​nəs How to pronounce zaniness (audio) \ noun

Did You Know?

Noun

Zanies have been theatrical buffoons since the heyday of the Italian commedia dell’arte, which introduced those knavish clowns. The Italian zanni was a stock servant character, often an intelligent and proud valet with abundant common sense, a love of practical jokes, and a tendency to be quarrelsome, cowardly, envious, vindictive, and treacherous. Zanni, the Italian name for the character, comes from a dialect nickname for Giovanni, the Italian form of John. The character quickly spread throughout European theater circles, inspiring such familiar characters as Pierrot and Harlequin, and by the late 1500s an anglicized version of the noun "zany" was introduced to English-speaking audiences by no less a playwright than William Shakespeare (in Loveas Labouras Lost).

Examples of zany in a Sentence

Noun hired a zany to entertain the children at the birthday party one of the challenges of hosting a radio call-in program is preventing the zanies from completely taking over the discussion Adjective a zany plan to drive cross-country on a motorized scooter
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Recent Examples on the Web: Noun The zaniest of the zanies, and one of Grimm’s favorites to play, is Dahlia Whitney, the murder victim’s wife. Myrna Petlicki, chicagotribune.com, "'Murder for Two' is a two-man show with one actor playing 12 roles," 3 July 2018 In Tasmania, the idea gradually turned into a bit of a joke: the island’s very own Bigfoot, with its own zany, rivalrous fraternities of seekers and true believers. Brooke Jarvis, The New Yorker, "The Obsessive Search for the Tasmanian Tiger," 16 Jan. 2012 This is a cast of zanies, all vying for center stage. David Lyman, Cincinnati.com, "Wanna see 'Clue' onstage? 'Murder For Two' might be for you," 11 May 2018 His zany, foul-mouthed Mayor Adam West first appeared during the second season of the hit Fox show and has been recurring ever since. Los Angeles Times Staff, latimes.com, "A Star Is Born: Natalie Portman turns 36 today," 9 June 2017 The argument continued as the group decided to go to a comedy club in Nashville called Zanies instead of the restaurant. Kevin Spain, USA TODAY, "Panthers' Michael Oher cited for assaulting Uber driver in Nashville," 4 May 2017 Recent Examples on the Web: Adjective Then earlier this month, the San Antonio native found an even zanier way to take his Christmas show on the road: dressed as the Grinch. René A. Guzman, ExpressNews.com, "San Antonio man steals the Christmas show as the Grinch on an ATV sled," 16 Dec. 2019 Weird and zany Alexa integrations are nothing new, at least at CES. Amrita Khalid, Quartz, "Alexa was everywhere at CES," 10 Jan. 2020 The final trailer for Cathy Yan’s Birds of Prey (and the Fantabulous Emancipation of One Harley Quinn) has arrived in all of its zany, energetic abundance of costume changes, ultraviolence, and yes, drug use. Richard Newby, The Hollywood Reporter, "How 'Birds of Prey' Flips the Script," 9 Jan. 2020 Along with increasingly zany holiday specials like Nestor the Long-Eared Christmas Donkey and The Leprechaun’s Christmas Gold, Rankin/Bass produced classics like 1970’s Santa Claus Is Comin’ to Town. Michelle Delgado, Smithsonian Magazine, "The Magical Animation of ‘Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer’," 23 Dec. 2019 Kimmy is bold and confident, abrasive and overly honest, zany and quirky. Andrea Barber, Good Housekeeping, "Andrea Barber Gets Real About Lori Loughlin, 'Full House' Secrets, and More in New Book," 15 Nov. 2019 After an hour-long zany, bilingual performance of La Pastorela at the Woodlawn Pointe Auditorium on a recent evening, actors with Teatro Audaz gathered on stage for a final nativity scene — the holiday spirit in full effect. Diego Mendoza-moyers, ExpressNews.com, "Teatro Audaz celebrates community, Latino heritage in on-stage performance," 22 Dec. 2019 Saturday’s colorful spectacle of participants in zany aquatic costumes ushered in the New York summer for the 37th time. USA TODAY, "Mermaid Parade, Lincoln’s Bible, District 12: News from around our 50 states," 24 June 2019 The Coney Island Mermaid Parade, a colorful spectacle of participants in zany aquatic costumes, ushered in the New York summer for the 37th time. Doug Duran, The Mercury News, "Photos: Coney Island Mermaid Parade," 22 June 2019

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'zany.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

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First Known Use of zany

Noun

1588, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Adjective

1609, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for zany

Noun

Italian zanni, a traditional masked clown, from Italian dialect Zanni, nickname for Italian Giovanni John

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Cite this Entry

“Zany.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/zany. Accessed 26 Feb. 2020.

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More Definitions for zany

English Language Learners Definition of zany

informal : very strange and silly
za·​ny | \ ˈzā-nē How to pronounce zany (audio) \
zanier; zaniest

Kids Definition of zany

: very strange and silly a zany plan

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More from Merriam-Webster on zany

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for zany

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with zany

Spanish Central: Translation of zany

Nglish: Translation of zany for Spanish Speakers

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