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

Huntsville, A&M Consolidated, Montgomery and Lamar Consolidated took the playoff spots last year. Jack Marrion, Houston Chronicle, "Paetow football showing early improvement entering District 10-5A Division II," 17 Sep. 2019 Those interests eventually led him to a Fire team that sits three points out of the final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference with three matches remaining. Jeremy Mikula,, "How MLS helped steer Joe Mansueto to become the Chicago Fire owner — and why he ‘loves’ the team’s name," 16 Sep. 2019 Gyorko’s bouncer up the middle gave the Dodgers (97-54) the series victory over a club fighting for the National League’s final playoff spot. Los Angeles Times, "Kenta Maeda notches save, Kenley Jansen pitches a flawless eighth in Dodgers’ win," 15 Sep. 2019 The Lions still remain four points behind New England, however, which holds the final Eastern Conference playoff spot. Julia Poe, Pro Soccer USA, "Three things we learned from Orlando City’s 2-2 draw with LAFC," 10 Sep. 2019 Philadelphia ended up winning the game 6-5 to move within 2 1/2 games of the Chicago Cubs (who are playing at San Diego) for the second NL wild-card playoff spot. Steve Gardner, USA TODAY, "Ronald Acuña Jr. turns home run into an out ... and into a home run again," 10 Sep. 2019 Meanwhile, Philadelphia is battling for a playoff spot. Chris Wassel, USA TODAY Sportsbook Wire, "Atlanta Braves at Philadelphia Phillies odds, picks and best bets," 9 Sep. 2019 Indianapolis won both meetings last season, including 33-17 in Week 17 which gave the Colts the final AFC playoff spot. Joe Reedy, The Denver Post, "Austin Ekeler scores 3 TDs in Chargers’ OT win over Colts," 8 Sep. 2019 For Flintridge Sacred Heart Academy, the Tologs have a returning class that will hopefully propel the team to a playoff spot in the tough Mission League. Vincent Nguyenstaff Writer, La Cañada Valley Sun, "Girls’ Golf Preview: Improvements around the corner for La Cañada," 6 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

20 Sep 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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concealment of treason or felony

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