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play·​off ˈplā-ˌȯf How to pronounce playoff (audio)
variants or less commonly play-off
: 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
: 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

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played off; playing off; plays off

transitive verb

: to set in opposition for one's own gain
: to set in contrast
: to complete the playing of (an interrupted contest)
: to break (a tie) by a playoff

Examples of playoff in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web
The Kings were looking to upgrade their roster after losing in the play-in tournament last season, a disappointing finish for a team that ended a 16-year playoff drought in 2023. Jason Anderson, Sacramento Bee, 27 June 2024 In the wake of the Heat falling in the first round of the playoffs after advancing through the play-in bracket as a No. 8 seed, Heat President Pat Riley spoke in terms of a long view in regards to Butler’s contract. Ira Winderman, Sun Sentinel, 27 June 2024
The Oregon product said her playing off ball allows the team to have more spacing on offense due to her deep sharpshooting. Fiifi Frimpong, New York Daily News, 30 June 2024 And just learning how to play off the ball at UConn, so being able to show that as well, especially with having a great teammate like Victor. Joe Arruda, Hartford Courant, 27 June 2024 See all Example Sentences for playoff 

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'playoff.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History

First Known Use


1895, in the meaning defined at sense 1


1736, in the meaning defined at sense 1a

Time Traveler
The first known use of playoff was in 1736

Dictionary Entries Near playoff

Cite this Entry

“Playoff.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 12 Jul. 2024.

Kids Definition


1 of 2 noun
: a final contest or series of contests to break a tie
: a series of contests played after the end of the regular season to determine a championship
often used in plural

play off

2 of 2 verb
: to break a tie by a play-off

More from Merriam-Webster on playoff

Last Updated: - Updated example sentences
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