ZANY, n. A popular character in old Italian plays, who imitated with
ludicrous incompetence the buffone, or clown, and was therefore the
ape of an ape; for the clown himself imitated the serious characters
of the play. The zany was progenitor to the specialist in humor, as
we to-day have the unhappiness to know him. In the zany we see an
example of creation; in the humorist, of transmission. Another
excellent specimen of the modern zany is the curate, who apes the
rector, who apes the bishop, who apes the archbishop, who apes the
ZANZIBARI, n. An inhabitant of the Sultanate of Zanzibar, off the
eastern coast of Africa. The Zanzibaris, a warlike people, are best
known in this country through a threatening diplomatic incident that
occurred a few years ago. The American consul at the capital occupied
a dwelling that faced the sea, with a sandy beach between. Greatly to
the scandal of this official’s family, and against repeated
remonstrances of the official himself, the people of the city
persisted in using the beach for bathing. One day a woman came down
to the edge of the water and was stooping to remove her attire (a pair
of sandals) when the consul, incensed beyond restraint, fired a charge
of bird-shot into the most conspicuous part of her person.
Unfortunately for the existing entente cordiale between two great
nations, she was the Sultana.
ZEAL, n. A certain nervous disorder afflicting the young and
inexperienced. A passion that goeth before a sprawl.
When Zeal sought Gratitude for his reward
He went away exclaiming: "O my Lord!"
"What do you want?" the Lord asked, bending down.
"An ointment for my cracked and bleeding crown."
ZENITH, n. The point in the heavens directly overhead to a man
standing or a growing cabbage. A man in bed or a cabbage in the pot
is not considered as having a zenith, though from this view of the
matter there was once a considerably dissent among the learned, some
holding that the posture of the body was immaterial. These were
called Horizontalists, their opponents, Verticalists. The
Horizontalist heresy was finally extinguished by Xanobus, the
philosopher-king of Abara, a zealous Verticalist. Entering an
assembly of philosophers who were debating the matter, he cast a
severed human head at the feet of his opponents and asked them to
determine its zenith, explaining that its body was hanging by the
heels outside. Observing that it was the head of their leader, the
Horizontalists hastened to profess themselves converted to whatever
opinion the Crown might be pleased to hold, and Horizontalism took its
place among fides defuncti.
ZEUS, n. The chief of Grecian gods, adored by the Romans as Jupiter
and by the modern Americans as God, Gold, Mob and Dog. Some explorers
who have touched upon the shores of America, and one who professes to
have penetrated a considerable distance to the interior, have thought
that these four names stand for as many distinct deities, but in his
monumental work on Surviving Faiths, Frumpp insists that the natives
are monotheists, each having no other god than himself, whom he
worships under many sacred names.
ZIGZAG, v.t. To move forward uncertainly, from side to side, as one
carrying the white man’s burden. (From zed, z, and jag, an
Icelandic word of unknown meaning.)
He zedjagged so uncomen wyde
Thet non coude pas on eyder syde;
So, to com saufly thruh, I been
Constreynet for to doodge betwene.
ZOOLOGY, n. The science and history of the animal kingdom, including
its king, the House Fly (Musca maledicta). The father of Zoology
was Aristotle, as is universally conceded, but the name of its mother
has not come down to us. Two of the science’s most illustrious
expounders were Buffon and Oliver Goldsmith, from both of whom we
learn (L’Histoire generale des animaux and A History of Animated
Nature) that the domestic cow sheds its horn every two years.