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adj. za·ni·er, za·ni·est
Comical or ludicrous because of incongruity or strangeness.
n. pl. za·nies
1. A comical person given to extravagant or outlandish behavior.
2. A ludicrous, buffoonish character in old comedies who attempts feebly to mimic the tricks of the clown.

[French zani, from Italian dialectal zanni, from Zanni, variant of Italian Gianni, nickname for Giovanni, John, the name of servants who act as clowns in commedia dell'arte.]

za′ni·ly adv.
za′ni·ness n.
American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fifth Edition. Copyright © 2016 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.
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The American Heritage® Roget's Thesaurus. Copyright © 2013, 2014 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.
References in periodicals archive ?
His 55-year journalism career has been hallmarked by humility, not to mention toughness, passion and more than a little zaniness.
But there's also a sort of deadpan zaniness, stemming from a steadfast conviction in its own absurdity, that gives "Bad Lieutenant: Port of Call New Orleans" a strange distinction all its own.
Arts will stage ``The Mousetrap,'' a comedic murder mystery by Agatha Christie, as `a mix of Monty Python, Inspector Clouseau and general youth-inspired zaniness,' director Katina Paxino says.
But the monologues are there, however truncated and interrupted by zaniness. The Troubies know they need to peg their antics to the original narrative for maximum hilarity.
But it's not all zaniness: Fisher writes elegiacally about growing up with a famous mother.
The biggest problem was Nesbitt who, as ever, was clearly in love with his performance even though it amounted to some cliched special effects, some sub-Jim Carrey zaniness, and those black contact lenses.
Brit-born helmer Tom Vaughan ("Starter for 10") tries too hard at first to emphasize free-wheeling zaniness, but settles into a smoother groove to keep this utterly disposable but lightly entertaining pic afloat.
You can't knock Black for trying his damnedest to keep this pitifully unfunny movie afloat by pouring on bucketfuls of his characteristic zaniness. But even he can't mask the fact that the humour relies on too many jokes about flatulence and tries too hard to be camp.
Here and there, however, the madcap zaniness and frat-house boisterousness are laced with something not unlike righteous rage about racial profiling, extraordinary rendition and government-authorized oppression.
Dr Who has the same dodgy formula every week now - a bumpy ride through time, a quirky cameo from some semi famous face like Trigger from Only Fools And Horses, a few crappy (not-very) special effects and some strangely muted zaniness from David Tennant.
Maddin's aesthetic brio should not obscure the fact that he is also very good with actors, whether the "name" talent of "Saddest Music" or the unknown faces that populate "Brand," all giving fully of themselves to the project's go-for-broke zaniness.