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Sep 10, 2018
This week’s theme
Words coined after stock characters

This week’s words
zany
punchinello
alazon
eiron
capitano

zany
Image: Wikimedia Commons

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A.Word.A.Day
with Anu Garg

Recently we featured the word scaramouch, coined after Scaramouche, a stock character in Italian comic theater during 16th-18th centuries. But Scaramouche isn’t the only one. This week we have assembled a cast of five such stock characters.

They have stepped off the stage and walked into the pages of the dictionary where they lie for posterity. Wake them up; hire them for your prose or poetry, office memo or college paper; and let them help you convey your message in a livelier manner.

zany

PRONUNCIATION:
(ZAY-nee)

MEANING:
adjective: Amusingly strange, comical, or clownish.

ETYMOLOGY:
From French zani, from Italian zanni, a nickname for Giovanni. The term has its origin in the comedy theater commedia dell’arte popular in 16-18th century Italy. Giovanni, Italian form of the name John, was originally the generic name of the servant, a stock character who tried to mimic his master, himself a clown. Earliest documented use: 1596.

USAGE:
“This is one of the zaniest and most delightfully wacky plays to ever grace any stage at Bard on the Beach.”
Lysistrata; The Vancouver Sun (Canada); Aug 30, 2018.

See more usage examples of zany in Vocabulary.com’s dictionary.

A THOUGHT FOR TODAY:
Our memories are card indexes consulted and then returned in disorder by authorities whom we do not control. -Cyril Connolly, critic and editor (10 Sep 1903-1974)

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