\ ˈhwif , ˈwif\

Definition of whiff

 (Entry 1 of 2)

1a : a quick puff or slight gust especially of air, odor, gas, smoke, or spray
b : an inhalation of odor, gas, or smoke
c : a slight puffing or whistling sound
2 : a slight trace or indication a whiff of scandal
3 : strikeout


whiffed; whiffing; whiffs

Definition of whiff (Entry 2 of 2)

intransitive verb

1 : to move with or as if with a puff of air
2 : to emit whiffs : puff
3 : to inhale an odor

transitive verb

1a : to carry or convey by or as if by a whiff : blow
b : to expel or puff out in a whiff : exhale
2 : fan sense 8 whiffed three batters

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Synonyms for whiff

Synonyms: Noun

breath, flicker, glimmer, hint, suggestion, tang, touch, trace

Synonyms: Verb

nose, scent, smell, sniff, snuff

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Examples of whiff in a Sentence


I got a whiff of new paint when I entered the room. I detected a whiff of sarcasm in her voice. The pitcher had eight whiffs during the game.


He whiffed a strong odor of perfume. The golfer nearly whiffed the shot. The golfer nearly whiffed on the shot.
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Recent Examples on the Web: Noun

Berryhill’s whiff on a one-hopper marked the beginning of a disturbing trend for Fullerton: The Titans committed five errors. Ethan Bauer, latimes.com, "Fullerton falls to Washington 8-5 in error-filled first game of super regional," 9 June 2018 Schaeffer is 12-1 with an ERA of 0.65 and 147 whiffs in 83 innings. Rick O'brien, Philly.com, "Neumann-Goretti's bats go cold in PIAA state quarterfinal loss," 8 June 2018 Such whiffs account for 8.3 percent of total pitches, with the next highest team at 7.9 percent. Jon Meoli, baltimoresun.com, "Still struggling with non-fastballs, Orioles to see plenty of spin from Yankees pitching staff," 1 June 2018 Halaska comes back to my safe aromatic distance from the whale and invites me to get a real whiff. Matt Simon, WIRED, "The Messy, Malodorous Mystery of the Dead 60-Foot Whale," 31 May 2018 Priyanka Chopra and Nick Jonas People first caught whiff of their relationship from a series of flirty Instagram likes and comments. Christopher Rosa, Glamour, "24 Social Media Moments That Literally Made 2018," 26 Dec. 2018 Surely some nearby ants or hummingbirds got a whiff, right? Angela Watercutter, WIRED, "Rampage: 14 Unanswered Questions About the Rock’s New Movie," 16 Apr. 2018 But swirled in there with all of this turmoil was a weird whiff of relief. Michael Andor Brodeur, BostonGlobe.com, "The official language of the US? It’s euphemism.," 21 June 2018 There was a whiff of rotting meat as a gaping bullet wound came into view. Hanah Salah, latimes.com, "Israel shoots to wound, not kill. That has led to a wave of amputations in Gaza," 8 June 2018

Recent Examples on the Web: Verb

Renato Nunez whiffed on a Betts grounder to third that could have been a double play, and Vazquez scored the tying run as Benintendi's chopper hit off second base. Jeff Wilson, star-telegram, "Rangers Reaction: Profar, Hamels plead guilty for Rangers' loss to Red Sox | Fort Worth Star-Telegram," 5 May 2018 The next season, Harris embarked on a scorched-earth rebuilding policy that resulted in 75 wins over the next four seasons under the misguidance of Sam Hinkie, who whiffed on three lottery picks. Marcus Hayes, Philly.com, "Sixers weren't ready for LeBron James or Paul George | Marcus Hayes," 4 July 2018 The Raiders whiffed on JaMarcus Russell, the first pick of the 2007 draft. Tom Krasovic, sandiegouniontribune.com, "Philip Rivers, once again, could yield Draft Night dividend for Chargers," 24 Apr. 2018 The Capitals whiffed on three of their four power plays. Mitch Stacy, baltimoresun.com, "Capitals beat Blue Jackets, 3-2, in second overtime to cut series deficit to 2-1," 18 Apr. 2018 Syndergaard whiffed six of his first nine hitters, but on second viewing, the Phillies handled him better. Tyler Kepner, New York Times, "Want to See the Starting Pitcher? Don’t Arrive Late," 4 Apr. 2018 This is all very good, but Google whiffed the details on the keyboard deck. Dieter Bohn, The Verge, "Google Pixel Slate review: slapdash," 27 Nov. 2018 What is clear is that this White House is doing an able job of whiffing one of the best political messages in decades, a reality that is demoralizing administration insiders and GOP candidates alike. Kimberley A. Strassel, WSJ, "Failure to Communicate," 2 Aug. 2018 And yet, on the day of its announcement, Mercedes-Benz completely whiffed on arguably the most important detail: how long the EQC’s battery will last. Sean O'kane, The Verge, "Mercedes-Benz messed up the most important detail of its big electric car debut," 5 Sep. 2018

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'whiff.' 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 whiff


1591, in the meaning defined at sense 1a


1591, in the meaning defined at intransitive sense 1

History and Etymology for whiff



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Learn More about whiff

Statistics for whiff

Last Updated

9 Feb 2019

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for whiff

The first known use of whiff was in 1591

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More Definitions for whiff



English Language Learners Definition of whiff

 (Entry 1 of 2)

: a slight smell of something : an odor that is weak
: a slight trace or indication



English Language Learners Definition of whiff (Entry 2 of 2)

US, informal
: to notice (a smell)
of a pitcher : to cause (a batter) to be out by pitching three strikes
of a batter : to make an out by getting three strikes


\ ˈhwif , ˈwif\

Kids Definition of whiff

 (Entry 1 of 2)

1 : a small gust
2 : a small amount (as of a scent or a gas) that is breathed in … the east wind brought a whiff of exhaust smell from some passing car.— Robert Lawson, Rabbit Hill
3 : hint entry 1 sense 2 His remark had a whiff of mischief.
4 : strikeout


whiffed; whiffing

Kids Definition of whiff (Entry 2 of 2)

2 : to breathe in an odor
3 : to fail to hit whiff a ball

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More from Merriam-Webster on whiff

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with whiff

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for whiff

Spanish Central: Translation of whiff

Nglish: Translation of whiff for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of whiff for Arabic Speakers

Britannica.com: Encyclopedia article about whiff

Comments on whiff

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