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 team's playoff drought started with a loss to the then-Los Angeles Raiders. Simmi Buttar, ajc, 12 Jan. 2022 An Alabama victory would be its fourth under the current playoff format and seventh overall since Nick Saban came to Tuscaloosa. Eddie Timanus, USA TODAY, 11 Jan. 2022 When autopsying the state of the Browns offense following an 8-9 record and no playoff appearance, of course there are going to be questions about Baker Mayfield’s year, use of 13 personnel and beefing up the receivers room. Ashley Bastock, cleveland, 11 Jan. 2022 The Chargers scored a touchdown on the final play of the fourth quarter to send the game into overtime, but Carlson’s fifth field goal of the game broke a 32-32 tie and sent the Raiders’ AFC West rival home without a playoff ticket. Mark Inabinett |, al, 11 Jan. 2022 When the Raiders and Bengals meet Sunday in Cincinnati, years of playoff anguish will collide. C.j. Doon,, 11 Jan. 2022 The Rams were still in the running for a high playoff seed as well, and McVay couldn't stomach going 0-2 to Kingsbury in the same year. Dana Scott, The Arizona Republic, 11 Jan. 2022 The Browns have already exercised Mayfield’s $18.9 million contract option for next season, but have yet to discuss a long-term extension with the QB, who led them to the postseason and a playoff win in 2020. oregonlive, 11 Jan. 2022 In opening the season 4-1, the Chargers looked like a playoff team. Los Angeles Times, 10 Jan. 2022

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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Dictionary Entries Near playoff



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Statistics for playoff

Last Updated

13 Jan 2022

Cite this Entry

“Playoff.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 21 Jan. 2022.

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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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