Zanni

Definition

Theater

  • The comic servant characters of the commedia dell'arte. Theyincluded the foolish Arlecchino and the crafty Scapino.The word is thought to derive from a Venetian form of the name Giovanni('John'). Several of the Zanni later became major figures in theEnglish harlequinade. In English 'zani' became a term for a clown orbuffoon, giving rise to the modern adjective 'zany'.
    He's like the zani to a tumbler
    That tries tricks after him to make men laugh.
    Ben Jonson: Every Man out of his Humour(IV, i)
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