adjective, zanier, zaniest.
ludicrously or whimsically comical; clownish.
noun, plural zanies.
one who plays the clown or fool in order to amuse others.
a comically wild or eccentric person.
a secondary stock character in old comedies who mimicked his master.
a professional buffoon; clown.
a silly person; simpleton.
a slavish attendant or follower.

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 John

zanily, adverb
zaniness, zanyism, noun
zanyish, adjective

3. kook, crazy, lunatic. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2014.
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World English Dictionary
zany (ˈzeɪnɪ)
adj , -nier, -niest
1.  comical in an endearing way; imaginatively funny or comical, esp in behaviour
n , -nier, -niest, -nies
2.  a clown or buffoon, esp one in old comedies who imitated other performers with ludicrous effect
3.  a ludicrous or foolish person
[C16: from Italian zanni, from dialect (Venice and Lombardy) Zanni, nickname for Giovanni John; one of the traditional names for a clown]

Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 10th Edition
2009 © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009
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Word Origin & History

comic performer, 1588, from Fr. zani, from It. zani, zanni "a zany, clown," originally Zanni, Venetian dial. variant of Gianni, pet form of Giovanni "John." A stock character in old comedies, he aped the principal actors. The adj. is attested by 1869, from the noun.
Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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Example sentences
His largest and best measured four feet in length, with a headlight-sized
  mirror and the zany appearance of a ray gun.
The soldiers entertained us with zany manoeuvres in their ancient tanks.
Whimsical colors and zany style dress up soaring ceilings and tall windows.
Boring perhaps, but not given to zany experiments or loud mouthed demagogues.
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