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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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 Investors see in them a triple whammy of risks: the uncertainty of a pandemic, a double-dip recession, and, on the horizon, a calamitous divorce with its European trading partners. Bernhard Warner, Fortune, "Down a stunning 23%, London’s once mighty FTSE is trading like an emerging-market stock exchange," 26 Sep. 2020 But the pandemic delivered another economic whammy to this generation, with half of Americans between 25 to 39 years old suffering job or income losses since March, or about 5 percentage points higher than baby boomers, according to Census data. Aimee Picchi, USA TODAY, "'Nobody wants to move back in with their parents': COVID-19 recession is forcing grown kids to move home, again," 24 Sep. 2020 So that’s a triple whammy: out-of-control forest fires, the Covid pandemic, and influenza. Matt Simon, Wired, "What’s in Wildfire Smoke, and How Dangerous Is It?," 18 Sep. 2020 Carmelo Anthony’s series-high 42 points in Game 1 staked Denver to an early lead, while the Jazz were dealt a double-whammy when sharpshooting center Mehmet Okur was lost to a torn Achilles. Eric Walden, The Salt Lake Tribune, "The Utah Jazz and Denver Nuggets have some playoff history, but not a lot of it," 16 Aug. 2020 While such adjustments could be on the cards, aspirants, and visa-holders can take some solace in the fact that there may not be another big whammy coming there way. Ananya Bhattacharya, Quartz India, "Trump’s latest offensive against H-1B visas is an election ploy based on misinformation," 4 Aug. 2020 This was the case even before the nation got hit with the triple whammy of a pandemic, an economic meltdown and nationwide protests over racial injustice. Michelle Cottle, Star Tribune, "In depth: The battle for Joe Biden," 28 July 2020 Psoriatic arthritis is basically a double-whammy of autoimmune disorders. Joni Sweet, SELF, "9 Psoriatic Arthritis Symptoms You Should Know," 3 Aug. 2020 Portland Mayor Ted Wheeler’s office circulated a plan this week to revive business downtown, which has been walloped by the double-whammy of the pandemic and more than 60 nights of civil rights protests in the city’s core. Jamie Goldberg, oregonlive, "Portland drafts plan to revive downtown, but business owners worry city is moving too slowly," 2 Aug. 2020

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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The first known use of whammy was in 1940

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Last Updated

5 Oct 2020

Cite this Entry

“Whammy.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/whammy. Accessed 25 Oct. 2020.

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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

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