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 nounWill 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 Can the Vikings win a winnable home game to keep their playoff hopes alive? Jim Souhan, Star Tribune, "Watching Bridgewater vs. Vikings safeties today," 29 Nov. 2020 The versatile junior racked up 178 yards of total offense on Friday night as the Panthers went on to rout Weatherford 42-7 and clinch its first playoff berth since 2008. Destine Gibson, Dallas News, "Offensive player of the week (Nov. 29): North Crowley RB/WR Tristan White," 29 Nov. 2020 Chubb’s cutback in front of Schobert was the Browns chasing their first playoff berth since 2002. Scott Patsko, cleveland, "What happened between the Browns and Jaguars in Week 12: Spoiler Alert," 28 Nov. 2020 The Bucs qualified for the playoffs for the first time since 2013 with Brooks in his first season at the school, winning three of their final four games, including a win last week against East Jefferson that solidified their playoff standing. Chris Dabe,, "Class 5A: Mandeville stuffs West Jeff for minus-81 yards of total offense," 27 Nov. 2020 Meanwhile, the Buccaneers look to right their ship after Monday's loss to the Rams while striving to solidify their playoff standing amid a 13-year postseason absence. Nate Davis, USA TODAY, "USA TODAY Sports' Week 12 NFL picks: Chiefs-Buccaneers battle highlights post-Thanksgiving menu," 25 Nov. 2020 Thanks in large part to Oubre’s production and vocal leadership, Phoenix could begin to aggressively pursue its first playoff berth since 2010. Connor Letourneau,, "Warriors’ Klay Thompson is irreplaceable, but Kelly Oubre Jr. is a solid Plan B," 20 Nov. 2020 The Tigers slipped past Fairfield 14-7 to open their playoff run and beat Leeds 35-14 last week. al, "Ramsay, Russellville bring strong traditions, stout defenses to Legion Field," 18 Nov. 2020 Which team will get the victory and help its playoff cause on Monday Night Football? Check out these Week 11 NFL picks and predictions for the game, which can be seen at 6:15 p.m. Arizona time on ESPN. Jeremy Cluff, The Arizona Republic, "Los Angeles Rams vs. Tampa Bay Buccaneers picks, predictions: Who wins Week 11 NFL game?," 17 Nov. 2020

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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Time Traveler for playoff

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The first known use of playoff was in 1736

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Statistics for playoff

Last Updated

2 Dec 2020

Cite this Entry

“Playoff.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 5 Dec. 2020.

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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

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