A-Z: General definitions: Zanni


A stock character of the Commedia dell'Arte. Zanni were male servants, clowns and jacks-of-all-trades. They enjoyed practical jokes and intrigue but could be quarrelsome, cowardly, and treacherous. Dei Zanni (‘the zanni’) was also a generic term for the Commedia dell'Arte itself. The English word ‘zany’ is derived from the antics of these Commedia characters.

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