whammy

noun
wham·my | \ ˈhwa-mē , 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

Keep scrolling for more

Synonyms for whammy

Synonyms

hex, hoodoo, jinx

Visit the Thesaurus for More 

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

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 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 Kids who develop acute lymphoblastic leukemia may be the victims of a triple-whammy stroke of bad luck, according to a provocative new theory from a respected British cancer researcher. Melissa Healy, latimes.com, "New 'unified theory' of childhood leukemia raises possibility of preventing the disease," 23 May 2018 Although they are known for different climbs, Honnold and Caldwell have been scaling cliffs together for years, including a triple whammy that is also in the record books. Peter Fimrite, SFChronicle.com, "Duo breaks speed-climbing record on Yosemite’s El Capitan Nose," 30 May 2018 Juliet The double-whammy reveal for William and Emily would involve their wife and mother respectively being revealed as the park's latest human-host hybrid. Josh Wigler, The Hollywood Reporter, "'Westworld': How the Shocking Robot Reveal Could Impact the Future," 14 May 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.

See More

First Known Use of whammy

1940, in the meaning defined at sense 1a

History and Etymology for whammy

probably from wham entry 1

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about whammy

Listen to Our Podcast about whammy

Dictionary Entries near whammy

wham

whame

whammel

whammy

whammy bar

whamp

whample

Phrases Related to whammy

put the whammy on someone

Statistics for whammy

Last Updated

22 Sep 2018

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for whammy

The first known use of whammy was in 1940

See more words from the same year

Keep scrolling for more

More Definitions for whammy

whammy

noun

English Language Learners Definition of whammy

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

More from Merriam-Webster on whammy

See words that rhyme with whammy

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for 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).

WORD OF THE DAY

to deposit or conceal in a hiding place

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

Name that Food Quiz

True or False

Test your knowledge - and maybe learn something along the way.

TAKE THE QUIZ
Citation

Test Your Knowledge - and learn some interesting things along the way.

TAKE THE QUIZ

Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!