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 one silver lining: After underperforming all year, fantasy teams that had been relying on Henry probably missed out on the playoffs anyway. Michael Salfino, WSJ, "Derrick Henry’s 238-Yard Game Wasn’t a Fantasy," 7 Dec. 2018 Teigen will post an Instagram video of Legend putting the Emmy atop the shelf, looking like a proud Little Leaguer back from the playoffs. Gillian Laab, Vogue, "Chrissy Teigen on Kanye, Getting Blocked by Trump, and Actually Caring About Her Comments," 16 Oct. 2018 The Yankees’ magic number to clinch home field advantage in the wildcard playoff is down to one. Ryan Gaydos, Fox News, "Yankees pitcher CC Sabathia ejected from game, two innings shy of $500G bonus," 28 Sep. 2018 Players were cut, and new players were added as more athletes became available as the WNBA playoffs came to a close. Jenny Mccoy, SELF, "The USA Basketball Women's National Team Is Currently Vying For Its Third Consecutive World Cup Victory," 24 Sep. 2018 More recently, the company announced a deal with Disney to feature the Overwatch League playoffs, as well as the second season, on both ESPN and Disney XD. Andrew Webster, The Verge, "Why competitive gaming is starting to look a lot like professional sports," 27 July 2018 The Philadelphia Fusion defeated the Boston Uprising in the first match of a best-of-three playoff series in Burbank, Ca. Courtney Becker,, "Philadelphia Fusion trounces Boston in first esports playoff game in Overwatch League," 12 July 2018 After four seasons in which Abdul-Jabbar's Lakers won a total of two playoff series, Magic and Cap, as Johnson always referred to Kareem, led the Lakers to five championships in the 1980s. Jack Mccallum,, "Go West, Big Man: The Logo on LeBron James and the Allure of Los Angeles," 11 July 2018 Who knows how the playoff series with the Sixers would have turned out if Dion was healthy. Manny Navarro, miamiherald, "Heat Check mailbag: After missing out on LaVine could Tyler Johnson be a fit for Kings?," 9 July 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

13 Dec 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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a nest or breeding place

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