play·off | \ˈplā-ˌȯf \
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


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

The Bulls were eliminated from the NBA Summer League playoffs Saturday with a 72-66 loss to the Pistons in Las Vegas. K.c. Johnson,, "As Bulls' summer league concludes, GM Gar Forman addresses play of 1st-round picks," 14 July 2018 Members of the ’88 team meshed with the 1981 Super Bowl team in a ceremony prior to the Bengals’ 2013 playoff game against San Diego. Paul Dehner Jr.,, "BX: Cincinnati Bengals looking to bring back 1988 Super Bowl team," 13 July 2018 Parker suffered a serious injury — a ruptured quadriceps tendon — during the playoffs in May of 2017. Rick Bonnell, charlotteobserver, "Tony Parker wants to protect 'little brother,' playoff streak with Hornets in 2018-19," 9 July 2018 Add Lancaster Paraclete, a Division 1A regional finalist whom Narbonne beat, and this tournament is stacked with teams that made deep playoff runs the year before. Andrew Turner,, "Edison’s Battle at the Beach to showcase wealth of talent," 7 July 2018 But the Centurions have eliminated the Colts from the playoffs each of the past two years, including a 24-3 third-round victory last year. Louisville Courier Journal, The Courier-Journal, "The four biggest high school football rivalries in Louisville," 19 June 2018 Due to rainouts, Coral Park’s ’77 team had to play Columbus and a rested Hialeah-Miami Lakes team in the same day during the single-elimination playoffs. Walter Villa, miamiherald, "Coral Park High baseball vets recall 1978, the year everything went right," 7 June 2018 Castle Park star Emilio Luna, who hit .750 during the playoffs to lift his season average above .500, was hit by a pitch to open the game, singled in the third and tripled in the fifth. Jim Lindgren,, "Old name leads new baseball champs at San Pasqual," 2 June 2018 The 51-year-old Smoltz qualified for the U.S. Senior Open on Thursday, emerging from a three-man playoff to take the final spot., "Hall of Fame pitcher Smoltz qualifies for US Senior Open," 1 June 2018

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 2018

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Time Traveler for playoff

The first known use of playoff was in 1736

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More Definitions for playoff



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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