play·​off | \ ˈplā-ˌȯf How to pronounce playoff (audio) \
variants: or less commonly play-off

Definition of playoff

 (Entry 1 of 2)

1 : a final contest, series of contests, or period of play to determine the winner between contestants or teams that have tied a golf tournament decided by an 18-hole playoff a sudden-death playoff
2 : a series of contests played after the end of the regular season to determine a championship usually plural except when used before another noun Will you watch the playoffs?got tickets to a playoff game

play off

played off; playing off; plays off

Definition of play off (Entry 2 of 2)

transitive verb

1a : to set in opposition for one's own gain
b : to set in contrast
2 : to complete the playing of (an interrupted contest)
3 : to break (a tie) by a playoff

Examples of playoff in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web: Noun

Even as Oakland held steady in the playoff race, Davis’s disappearing production provided serious cause for alarm. Michael Shapiro,, "Gerrit Cole Gives the Astros a Scary-Good Look for October," 17 Sep. 2019 The problem is, UCF won’t get many more opportunities to make a statement to the playoff committee. C.j. Doon,, "College football overreaction index, Week 3: Same old Maryland?; ACC is at the bottom of the Power 5," 16 Sep. 2019 The former Boston University standout in the spring of 2017, just as the NHL playoffs approached, agreed to a three-year pact that paid a total of some $3.8 million., "Charlie McAvoy agrees to contract extension with Bruins - The Boston Globe," 16 Sep. 2019 Bridgewater's last start was with the Saints in the final regular season game of 2018, when New Orleans had already locked up the top seed in the NFC playoffs. Brett Martel, Houston Chronicle, "Saints' Drew Brees has torn ligament in thumb," 16 Sep. 2019 The Reds are out of the playoff race, but third baseman Eugenio Suárez will have his own chase for the final two weeks of the season. Bobby Nightengale,, "Eugenio Suárez blasts 2 home runs in Cincinnati Reds win, tied for MLB lead," 16 Sep. 2019 With just 11 games remaining before the playoffs, the Yankees will welcome back their best starting pitcher after a long, frustrating saga that began with a shoulder injury and then was compounded by a mysterious latissimus dorsi ailment. James Wagner, New York Times, "Luis Severino Returns, but the Yankees’ Slew of Injuries Remains a Mystery," 17 Sep. 2019 Yep, the winner of this one just might end up with a home playoff game. Josh Bean |, al, "Birmingham HS picks: Who wins Mountain Brook at Vestavia Hills showdown in Class 7A?," 17 Sep. 2019 And despite a trying 2018-19, Paul remained an integral playoff piece with Houston and nearly reached the Finals two seasons ago. Michael Shapiro,, "SI's NBA All-Decade Team: Second Team," 17 Sep. 2019

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'playoff.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

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First Known Use of playoff


1895, in the meaning defined at sense 1


1736, in the meaning defined at sense 1a

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Statistics for playoff

Last Updated

18 Oct 2019

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for playoff

The first known use of playoff was in 1736

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More Definitions for playoff


\ ˈplā-ˌȯf\

Kids Definition of play-off

: a game or series of games to determine a championship or to break a tie

More from Merriam-Webster on playoff

Nglish: Translation of playoff for Spanish Speakers

Comments on playoff

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to be made up of

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