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

During the 2015 Stanley Cup playoffs, the Wings and Lightning went to seven games in the first round. Kirkland Crawford, Detroit Free Press, "Kronwalled: We remember Detroit Red Wings' Niklas Kronwall's biggest hits," 3 Sep. 2019 Roberts said, when asked whether Urias is auditioning for a playoff rotation spot. Mike Digiovanna, Los Angeles Times, "Julio Urias will start for the Dodgers in first game back from suspension," 2 Sep. 2019 After five winning seasons in a row — including three trips to the playoffs and two American League pennants — those Rangers crumbled under a heap of injuries. Tyler Kepner, New York Times, "Yankees Could Face Some Tough Calls as Their Regulars Return," 2 Sep. 2019 Triple-A El Paso’s playoff push fizzled Sunday afternoon. Jeff Sanders, San Diego Union-Tribune, "Minors: Chihuahuas bounced from playoff push," 2 Sep. 2019 The throw sailed high and pulled Yuli Gurriel off the bag, an inexcusable and indefensible error against a playoff-caliber club. Chandler Rome, Houston Chronicle, "George Springer's homer lifts Astros to 10-inning win over Brewers," 2 Sep. 2019 But the Browns are built to be a playoff contender. Terry Pluto,, "Cleveland Browns Scribbles: Taking a risk at punter, adding help at receiver," 1 Sep. 2019 The River Cats start a best-of-five playoff series against either Las Vegas or El Paso at home Tuesday. Henry Schulman,, "Giants’ promote four from Sacramento, including outfielder Chris Shaw," 1 Sep. 2019 Williams has to stay down 10 days, so he was sent to Class AA Biloxi, which made the Southern League playoffs. Tom Haudricourt, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, "Brewers 2, Cubs 0: With injury-thinned lineup, Brewers make two first-inning runs stand up," 31 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

6 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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readily or continually undergoing change

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