wham·​my ˈ(h)wa-mē How to pronounce whammy (audio)
plural whammies
: a supernatural power bringing bad luck
: a magic curse or spell : jinx, hex
: a potent force or attack
specifically : a paralyzing or lethal blow

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.

Example Sentences

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 triple whammy — staffing shortages, inflation and supply issues — have left some independent eateries hanging by a thread. Stefene Russell, The Salt Lake Tribune, 8 Dec. 2022 The triple whammy of viruses is straining hospitals, keeping families sick for weeks, and forcing parents to miss work in record numbers. Lena H. Sun, Anchorage Daily News, 16 Dec. 2022 And as if the triple whammy of RSV, coronavirus and the seasonal flu weren’t enough, UC San Francisco notes a rise in other viral illnesses, like metapneumovirus — dubbed MPV — and parainfluenza. Ryan Fonsecastaff Writer, Los Angeles Times, 29 Nov. 2022 With Reigns rarely around, Rhodes gone and Orton potentially following suit, WWE has been hit with a triple whammy, essentially losing three of its biggest male stars while Sasha Banks is on the outs with the company as well. Blake Oestriecher, Forbes, 17 June 2022 The delay also means taxpayers will soon experience a double-whammy property tax payment: The next installment is due by March 1. Chicago Tribune, 6 Dec. 2022 Along Alaska’s shore, the main threats are a double-whammy of coastal flooding and winds up to 60 mph with higher gusts that could displace loose objects, damage buildings and bring down powerlines. Aya Elamroussi, CNN, 16 Sep. 2022 An older person might have reduced visual acuity, hearing difficulties, insufficient funds and little knowledge of the latest cybercrime-prevention information—a quadruple whammy. Karen Renaud, WSJ, 6 Sep. 2022 San Francisco’s economy is being hit by a triple whammy that is dragging down hopes of a sustainable recovery: a glut of unused office space, accelerating tech layoffs and a downturn in venture capital investment. Roland Li, San Francisco Chronicle, 6 Oct. 2022 See More

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.

Word History


probably from wham entry 1

First Known Use

1940, in the meaning defined at sense 1a

Time Traveler
The first known use of whammy was in 1940


Dictionary Entries Near whammy

Cite this Entry

“Whammy.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/whammy. Accessed 6 Feb. 2023.

Last Updated: - Updated example sentences
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