Za'ny. n.s. [Probably of zanei.] The contraction of Giovanni or sanna, a scoff, according to Skinner.] One employed to raise laughter by his gestures, actions and speeches; a merry Andrew; a buffoon.
Some carrytale, some pleaseman, some slight zany,
Some mumblenews, some trencher knight, some Dick,
Told our intents before. Shakespeare.
Then write that I may follow, and so be
Thy echo, thy debtor, thy foil, thy zany,
I shall be thought, if mine like thine I shape,
All the world's lion, though I be thy ape. Donne.
Oh, great restorer of the good old stage,
Preacher at once, and zany of thy age. Pope's Dunciad.