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

With just 11 games remaining before the playoffs, the Yankees will welcome back their best starting pitcher after a long, frustrating saga that began with a shoulder injury and then was compounded by a mysterious latissimus dorsi ailment. James Wagner, New York Times, "Luis Severino Returns, but the Yankees’ Slew of Injuries Remains a Mystery," 17 Sep. 2019 Yep, the winner of this one just might end up with a home playoff game. Josh Bean |, al, "Birmingham HS picks: Who wins Mountain Brook at Vestavia Hills showdown in Class 7A?," 17 Sep. 2019 And despite a trying 2018-19, Paul remained an integral playoff piece with Houston and nearly reached the Finals two seasons ago. Michael Shapiro,, "SI's NBA All-Decade Team: Second Team," 17 Sep. 2019 The Pac-12 is way behind in the playoff chase, and maybe out of it altogether. oregonlive, "It’s time for the Oregon Ducks’ offensive line to play to its reputation: Issues & Answers," 16 Sep. 2019 Next up are consecutive matches against 2018 playoff teams at Seven Lakes (Sept. 17) and at home against Tompkins (Sept. 20). Jack Marrion, Houston Chronicle, "Katy notebook: Taylor makes big plays in win against Deer Park," 16 Sep. 2019 The roster spot Stick occupies isn’t insignificant for a playoff contender that’s dealing with several injuries (which can make roster spots more valuable). San Diego Union-Tribune, "Column: TD catch by cancer survivor Quessenberry tops Week 2 NFL-San Diego highlights," 16 Sep. 2019 The general consensus when he was lost for the season was that the Brewers’ playoff chances were cooked. Tom Haudricourt, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, "Christian Yelich's kneecap is broken but not his spirit as he prepares to cheer on the Brewers," 16 Sep. 2019 The loss mathematically eliminated the Reds from the playoffs, not that anyone was kept in suspense, with 11 games remaining in the year. Bobby Nightengale,, "Cincinnati Reds officially eliminated from the postseason after loss to Chicago Cubs," 16 Sep. 2019

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

4 Oct 2019

Look-up Popularity

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

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fear of the number 13

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