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

SportsPulse: Lorenzo Reyes examines each team in the AFC East and tells us why each may or may not makes the playoffs. Jarrett Bell, USA TODAY, "Opinion: Dolphins CB Xavien Howard has paycheck that exceeds his reputation," 6 Aug. 2019 Willis has reached the playoffs in four straight seasons and won seven out of its final 10 games a year ago before a bi-district round loss to Waller in the Region III-5A tournament. Rob Tate, Houston Chronicle, "Willis volleyball starts out strong with sweep of Lufkin," 6 Aug. 2019 So the smile that never left him Tuesday at Liberty National Golf Club had nothing to do with the $15 million prize at stake as the FedEx Cup playoffs begin. Doug Ferguson,, "A major, and a summer of stress for Gary Woodland," 6 Aug. 2019 In the CIF Southern Section Division III playoffs, Hoover earned a 17-12 first-round win against Santa Ynez. Charles Rich, Glendale News-Press, "Looking Back: Hoover football, boys’ water polo make most noise during 2018-19 campaign," 6 Aug. 2019 The Diamondbacks won their home series by taking two of three from the Washington Nationals to keep their playoff hopes alive. Dana Scott, azcentral, "Arizona sports weekend: Phoenix Rising FC leads impressive wins among Diamondbacks, Mercury," 5 Aug. 2019 If the Bearcats can get past Frankfort in their district, a deep run in the Class A playoffs appears possible. Jason Frakes, The Courier-Journal, "3 Louisville area high school football programs on the rise in 2019," 5 Aug. 2019 But the Lake County boarding school, which draws students from across the world, opts to not participate in the FHSAA playoffs in its power sports, which include basketball, boys soccer and baseball. Adam Lichtenstein,, "University School basketball star Scott Barnes announces transfer to powerhouse Montverde Academy," 5 Aug. 2019 Liberty won a state championship last season and beat CVC by four touchdowns in the NCS Open Division playoffs. Mike Lefkow, The Mercury News, "Bay Area Preps HQ football preview: No. 13 Clayton Valley Charter," 2 Aug. 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

9 Aug 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

What made you want to look up playoff? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


to move or obtain by small maneuvers

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