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 The double-whammy threatens to shut down flights at bases including London Stansted, Europe’s biggest discount hub, in the run-up to Britain’s August bank holiday — traditionally the busiest weekend of the year for UK travel. BostonGlobe.com, "Portland hospital to get $1m donation from L.L. Bean heirs," 16 Aug. 2019 Global emerging markets have been hit by the triple whammy of the Federal Reserve, Donald Trump and the Chinese yuan. Fortune, "The Currency That’s Quietly Emerged as Asia’s Safest Bet," 6 Aug. 2019 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

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

22 Sep 2019

Time Traveler for whammy

The first known use of whammy was in 1940

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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

More from Merriam-Webster on whammy

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for whammy

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with whammy

Comments on whammy

What made you want to look up whammy? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


not being in agreement or harmony

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