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 When the virus swept through China in late 2019 and early 2020, the country’s increased need for masks dealt a double-whammy to the global supply. Paris Martineau, Wired, "The ‘Surreal’ Frenzy Inside the US' Biggest Mask Maker," 16 Mar. 2020 For Corporate America, the coronavirus could pose a double-whammy. Matt Egan, CNN, "How the coronavirus could spark a severe slowdown or recession in America," 26 Feb. 2020 At the same time, the Global Polio Eradication Initiative (GPEI) is debating whether to combat the resurgent virus by re-enlisting a triple-whammy vaccine pulled from global use in 2016. Leslie Roberts, Science | AAAS, "Polio eradication program faces hard choices as endgame strategy fails," 30 Dec. 2019 Acensi-Ferré’s double-whammy of personal transitions may be uncommon, but her experience taking time away from work isn’t. Annabelle Timsit, Quartz, "In the age of burnout, how companies keep their employees coming back," 19 Nov. 2019 Elite fans got a surprise quadruple whammy of good news on Friday morning. Sydney Bucksbaum, EW.com, "Netflix gives a first look at Elite season 3 with two new characters," 4 Oct. 2019 Since then, the ultimate borrower has been hit by a triple whammy of higher interest rates, fewer refinancing options, and a souring of sentiment among lenders about the collateral. Washington Post, "India’s Money Engine Is Broken," 19 May 2019 Everything is seamlessly tied together in a double-whammy climax. Michael Dirda, Washington Post, "Sherlock Holmes can never die. New books about the great sleuth are making sure of it.," 27 Nov. 2019 Samoa was given its first double-whammy in the 57th when Scotland earned a penalty try and Fidow his first yellow for collapsing a maul that was heading for the tryline. San Diego Union-Tribune, "Scotland wins 34-0 with 2 pen tries, Samoa’s Fidow sent off," 30 Sep. 2019

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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The first known use of whammy was in 1940

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Last Updated

23 Mar 2020

Cite this Entry

“Whammy.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/whammy. Accessed 3 Apr. 2020.

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More Definitions for whammy


How to pronounce whammy (audio)

English Language Learners Definition of whammy

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

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Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with whammy

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