wham·​my | \ ˈ(h)wa-mē How to pronounce whammy (audio) \
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 The Hope College women’s basketball team experienced the ultimate double-whammy. Dana Gauruder, Detroit Free Press, "How Hope College women’s basketball overcame pandemic to build 45-game win streak," 6 Mar. 2021 But the triple-whammy packaging on Sept. 11 will generate a lasting afterglow … or many months of gloom. oregonlive, "6 months away: Pac-12 showdowns with Ohio State, Michigan and Texas A&M loom large for teetering conference," 12 Mar. 2021 But nothing beats the pandemic in terms of its unique double-whammy last March. San Diego Union-Tribune, "After taking most of 2020 season off, Flower Fields set to bloom again," 27 Feb. 2021 The pandemic created a double-whammy for the Admiral Twin Drive-In, an historic drive-in movie theater built in 1951 in Tulsa, Oklahoma. Aimee Picchi And Andrea Kramar, USA TODAY, "Small business strategy for projecting success: How a drive-in theater owner pivoted amid the pandemic," 25 Jan. 2021 Texas residential ratepayers are about to be hit with a triple whammy. Robert Bryce, Forbes, "Low-Income Texans Will Foot Biggest Bills After The Blackouts," 28 Feb. 2021 But public health officials fear a double-whammy from people who gathered at Christmas and New Year’s will create a surge upon a surge. Time, "California's Hospitals Are at the 'Brink of Catastrophe' as the State Passes 25,000 Dead," 1 Jan. 2021 The novel coronavirus has been a triple-whammy for one New York family, who has seen three members hospitalized with COVID-19 in recent weeks. Madeline Farber, Fox News, "Coronavirus hospitalizes 3 members of New York family: ‘COVID has taken over’," 18 Dec. 2020 Brooklyn Chamber of Commerce President Randy Peers described the snow, closing indoor dining and other COVID-19 restrictions as a triple whammy. Ryan W. Miller, USA TODAY, "'What's a heater gonna do when it's 30 degrees': Restaurants face bleak winter in COVID-19," 16 Dec. 2020

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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Last Updated

28 Mar 2021

Cite this Entry

“Whammy.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/whammy. Accessed 13 Apr. 2021.

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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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