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

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 In the Bathroom Bathrooms are a double-whammy no-no. Megan Ditrolio, Marie Claire, "ALERT: Leaving Your Birth Control Pills in Your Car Could Get You Pregnant," 27 July 2018 Built in 1959 and located in California's San Fernando Valley, the home has a pretty epic backyard that comes with a double-whammy view: the canyon and the Los Angeles' skyline. Lauren Smith, House Beautiful, "A Peek Inside the Place Idina Menzel Now Calls Home," 1 Sep. 2015 Then there are the loans, which can be a triple whammy. USA TODAY, "New-car shoppers: Brace yourselves for higher costs, longer loans," 19 Apr. 2018 Three days later, some residents there continue to suffer through a triple whammy of threats. Amy B Wang, chicagotribune.com, "'This is heartbreaking': Lava burns more homes on Hawaii's Big Island as new fissures form," 7 May 2018 Three days later, some residents there continue to suffer through a triple whammy of threats. Amy B Wang, chicagotribune.com, "'This is heartbreaking': Lava burns more homes on Hawaii's Big Island as new fissures form," 7 May 2018 The two guitarists closed the song with a cacophony of feedback and whammy bar squeals that was simultaneously awe-inspiring and nearly unbearable. Bryan Rolli, Billboard, "Slayer Close Out First Leg of Farewell Tour with Blistering, Career-Spanning Austin Performance," 21 June 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

24 Mar 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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something valued as if it were money

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