wham·​my | \ ˈhwa-mē How to pronounce whammy (audio) , ˈwa-\
plural whammies

Definition of whammy

1a : a supernatural power bringing bad luck
b : a magic curse or spell : jinx, hex
2 : a potent force or attack specifically : a paralyzing or lethal blow

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Did You Know?

The origin of whammy is not entirely certain, but it is assumed to have been created by combining wham (a solid blow) with the whimsical -y ending. The first example of whammy in print occured in 1940, but the word was popularized in the 1950s by the cartoonist Al Capp in the comic strip Li'l Abner. The character Evil-Eye Fleegle could paralyze someone with the sheer power of his gaze. The single whammy was a look with one eye, and the fearsome double whammy used both eyes. As you may know, double whammy has also found a place in English as a general term. It means "a combination of two adverse forces, circumstances, or effects" - in other words, a one-two punch.

Examples of whammy in a Sentence

if you tell anyone about this, I swear I'll put the whammy on you put the whammy on herself by publicly predicting that she would win the tennis tournament

Recent Examples on the Web

That pulls off the double-whammy of expanding a cancer drug’s reach while also narrowing its use cases based on genetic markers. Sy Mukherjee, Fortune, "Can Disturbing Graphics Scare People Off of Cigarettes?—Brainstorm Health," 15 Aug. 2019 Maybe politicians are just facing a temporary double-whammy of unpopularity. The Economist, "Are Western democracies becoming ungovernable?," 1 Aug. 2019 Insurers didn’t wake up to the triple whammy of low investment returns, underestimated lapse rates and unexpectedly long-lived claims for decades, when customers reached their 70s and 80s and began filing claims. Los Angeles Times, "Column: Insurance firms’ blunders on long-term care insurance create disaster for millions," 25 July 2019 And on Sunday the Smiths will open the first of a double-whammy bid to be Atlas' favorite new stomping ground when Loch Bar opens at River Oaks District. Greg Morago, Houston Chronicle, "Loch Bar brings seafood tavern concept to River Oaks," 21 June 2019 The triple-whammy of tariffs, security (personal and national) and monopolistic concerns has added to volatility in the stock prices of tech’s biggest names. Tom Saler, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, "Tom Saler: Anti-trust action against Big Tech recalls moves against Rockefeller, Carnegie a century ago," 21 June 2019 This double-whammy from climate change is already underway, and waterways such as the Ganges River are most at risk, according to Joerg Schaefer, a climate geochemist at Lamont-Doherty and an author on the paper. Eric Niiler, WIRED, "Cold War Spy Photos Show How Fast Himalaya Glaciers Are Melting," 19 June 2019 Now the Fed thinks the economy is robust enough to absorb the double monetary whammy of higher interest rates and QT. The Editorial Board, WSJ, "Powell to Markets: Take That," 19 Dec. 2018 MUSIC Drake The Tacoma Dome unveils the results of its $30 million renovation with a run of November shows, starting with Drake’s double-whammy tour with trap kings Migos. The Seattle Times, "Everything you need to know about the hottest tickets in town: Seattle events for November 2018," 26 Oct. 2018

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'whammy.' 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 whammy

1940, in the meaning defined at sense 1a

History and Etymology for whammy

probably from wham entry 1

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whammy bar



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Last Updated

25 Aug 2019

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Time Traveler for whammy

The first known use of whammy was in 1940

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English Language Learners Definition of whammy

informal : something (such as a magical spell) that causes someone to have bad luck

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authorized for issue (as a bond)

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