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

The Clippers meanwhile have had a winning record the last eight seasons and have made the playoffs in seven of those years. Arash Markazi,, "Clippers shed ‘little brother’ status while Lakers lean on legacy," 8 June 2019 The Nets made the playoffs for the first time in four years this season, and upcoming free agent Kyrie Irving has expressed serious interest in signing with them, according to Wojnarowski. Lila Bromberg, USA TODAY, "Reported Nets-Hawks trade spurs interesting possibilities for NBA free agency," 6 June 2019 The glitzy, imagined team that challenges for the division, makes the playoffs consistently, and maybe, just maybe, sneaks its way through the American League to play for the World Series., "The Seattle Mariners rebuild – an exercise in patience: Commentary," 6 June 2019 Wright transferred from Etowah to Gadsden City, a team that’s won six games the last two years and hasn’t made the playoffs since 2016. Josh Bean |,, "Recruiting news and notes for Alabama, Auburn and UAB," 5 June 2019 However, Boyd did make the last-minute 49-yard touchdown catch that kept the Ravens from making the playoffs in last season’s finale. Katherine Fominykh,, "After mentoring Michael Vick, new Ravens quarterbacks coach James Urban getting Lamar Jackson up to speed," 13 July 2018 There are other available players who could improve the club’s chances of making the playoffs for the first time in seven years but none to the extent of Machado. Tom Haudricourt, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, "Haudricourt: Brewers looking to go big with Manny Machado, who is an absolutely perfect fit," 13 July 2018 The 8-3 2002 team was only the fourth Oak Ridge squad to make the playoffs in school history. Chris Hays,, "Coach Clint Johnson hopes to return Oak Ridge to glory," 10 July 2018 Maybe not win, probably not make the playoffs, but at least enough to believe and maintain a competitive atmosphere for young players to develop. Sam Mellinger, kansascity, "Mellinger Minutes: Whit not an All-Star (?), Jeff Long and KU, Chiefs fears, Odom's crossroads," 10 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

14 Jun 2019

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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


\ 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).


incapable of being surmounted or overcome

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