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 Limited single-game tickets for Bucks playoff games will go on sale to the public at noon Friday on and in the Bucks mobile app. Jr Radcliffe, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, "Brewers and Bucks announce they will increase fan capacity to 50%," 11 May 2021 Hall played 20 minutes in Brooklyn’s three playoff games. Mark Inabinett |, al, "Donta Hall to finish NBA season with Orlando Magic," 9 May 2021 But will that prolific offense be enough during grinding playoff games against other elite teams?, "Chemistry biggest issue for James Harden and Brooklyn Nets heading into postseason," 8 May 2021 Faceoff: Despite a tough regular season due to injuries, the Vikings were the last 3A school from Howard County standing in 2019 after winning two playoff games. Jacob Calvin Meyer,, "Howard County 2021 boys lacrosse preview," 6 May 2021 The Oral Roberts signee was the MVP of District 4-6A — a district whose four postseason qualifiers combined to win 10 playoff games. Greg Riddle, Dallas News, "The Dallas Morning News’ 2021 all-area girls soccer: See full first and second teams," 6 May 2021 Capacity could increase to as much as 20% (3,800 fans) for home playoff games, the source said. oregonlive, "Portland Trail Blazers to be granted permission for 10% fan capacity at remaining regular-season home games: Source," 5 May 2021 Oddly enough, the Coyotes have had playoff games in early May in their history. Jose M. Romero, The Arizona Republic, "Arizona Coyotes' first game on Cinco de Mayo will be celebration of fans, new thinking," 1 May 2021 But 25 of those tackles came in the Big Ten championship game and the playoff games against Clemson and Alabama. Nathan Baird, cleveland, "Undrafted Justin Hilliard reportedly headed to San Francisco 49ers: Ohio State football," 1 May 2021

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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Time Traveler for playoff

Time Traveler

The first known use of playoff was in 1736

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Statistics for playoff

Last Updated

13 May 2021

Cite this Entry

“Playoff.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 15 May. 2021.

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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

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