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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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 affecting the hospitality industry in tourism-rich coastal Alabama forced restaurants to adjust their hours this summer. al, 3 Oct. 2021 The group fires him, and Lucifer, whose powers are back, hits Jimmy with the desire whammy. Sara Netzley, EW.com, 10 Sep. 2021 Speaking of which, the Energy sector got a double-whammy yesterday from yields and crude prices, which dove after OPEC+ failed to reach a production deal. Jj Kinahan, Forbes, 7 July 2021 As a double-whammy, while undergoing an MRI for her leg injury, doctors discovered a tumor in her kidney. San Diego Union-Tribune, 12 Sep. 2021 Ransomware attacks often present a double-whammy for victims: first, the hackers will demand payment to unlock their files. Washington Post, 19 Aug. 2021 This Prime Day was a double-whammy, then, as every kind of were available, and some of them at the keenest prices yet seen. David Phelan, Forbes, 23 June 2021 The film earned more than China’s double-whammy 2020 biggies (The Eight Hundred with $460 million and My People My Homeland with $430 million) and more than the Hollywood-specific likes of Godzilla Vs. Scott Mendelson, Forbes, 28 June 2021 Restaurants are facing a double-whammy of issues as communities begin to open up. Chris Morris, Fortune, 12 May 2021

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

6 Oct 2021

Cite this Entry

“Whammy.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/whammy. Accessed 16 Oct. 2021.

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More Definitions for whammy



English Language Learners Definition of whammy

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


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