zany

noun
za·ny | \ˈzā-nē \
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

zany

adjective
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 \ adverb
zaniness \ˈzā-nē-nəs \ 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

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

And if adding Lance wasn’t zany enough, Los Angeles also reportedly added Javale McGee on Sunday. Rohan Nadkarni, SI.com, "Grades: Lance Stephenson and JaVale McGee Join Forces with LeBron James in L.A.," 1 July 2018 Image The challenge: To capture the spirit of Tom Stoppard’s zany and chaotic play, told in a series of repeating and often conflicting flashbacks that feature the real-life figures James Joyce, Vladimir Lenin and the Dadaist Tristan Tzara. Michael Paulson, New York Times, "Ding. Hiss. Chirp. Broadway’s Best Sounds (Other Than the Songs).," 28 May 2018 Billy Crystal offers zany phone messages Williams left and tells how the comedian called during Ronald Reagan’s funeral, pretending to be the former president. Hal Boedeker, OrlandoSentinel.com, "Robin Williams: HBO's remarkable tribute," 12 July 2018 As is usually the case with Ubisoft, the conference was heartfelt, zany, and high on showmanship. Samuel Axon, Ars Technica, "Ubisoft at E3: Beyond Good & Evil is back," 11 June 2018 Instead, she's painted her world with zany designs, rock-n-roll friends, and a whole lot of style, including a 4-bedroom 6-bathroom dream home in Guerrero, Mexico. Sara Tardiff, ELLE Decor, "Get An Exclusive Look At Betsey Johnson's "Betseyvilla" Airbnb In Mexico," 14 July 2017 Five Alarm is pretty outside of the box, pretty zany and intense. Gary Graff, Billboard, "Five Alarm Funk Teams Up With the Iconic Bootsy Collins for 'We Play the Funk': Video Premiere," 13 June 2018 Alex Bregman stood near the dugout awaiting a postgame television interview for the zaniest walk-off of his stupendous first half. Chandler Rome, Houston Chronicle, "Bizarre ending secures Astros' extra-innings victory over A's," 11 July 2018 And, for her, the funniest moments don’t require a clever pun or a zany coincidence. Justine Harman, Glamour, "Sharon Horgan Is the Realest Mother on TV," 4 July 2018

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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Time Traveler for zany

The first known use of zany was in 1588

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More Definitions for zany

zany

adjective

English Language Learners Definition of zany

: very strange and silly

zany

adjective
za·ny | \ˈzā-nē \
zanier; zaniest

Kids Definition of zany

: very strange and silly a zany plan

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