\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

c : smoke sense 3

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

But delicacy was the prize with the housemade spinach ravioli, whose thin-skinned dumplings were lifted to luxury by a vivid whiff of summer truffles. Craig Laban, Philly.com, "Atlantic City restaurants: New casinos, diverse independent spots create rising culinary energy," 6 July 2018 In June, Peacock had the highest whiff percentage against his fastball of any month in his career. Chandler Rome, Houston Chronicle, "Astros' Brad Peacock rebounds in June after a rough May," 30 June 2018 The show kicked off with a spoof of Black Panther, complete with the comedienne coming for the Wakandan crown — or just a whiff of T’Challa’s (Chadwick Boseman) inner leg. refinery29.com, "MTV Movie Awards: From Tiffany Haddish's Best Jokes to The Blackest Show Yet," 19 June 2018 On a flight from San Francisco, the guy in the row in front of us slipped off his flip-flops and plopped his bare feet up on a partition, perfect position for the rest of us to get a good whiff. Ana Veciana-suarez, miamiherald, "Buckle up! Air travel has become turbulent in more ways than one," 18 June 2018 The Padres went down in order in the ninth on three strikeouts – their ninth, 10th and 11th whiffs in a four-inning stretch. Kevin Acee, sandiegouniontribune.com, "Things fall apart quickly for Padres in loss to Cubs," 13 July 2018 Just 14 of 54 generated whiffs in May. The reassignment was not for lack of effort. Chandler Rome, Houston Chronicle, "Astros demote reliever Ken Giles to Fresno," 12 July 2018 Riders can’t help but get a second whiff of Jack-Jack’s Cookie Num Nums, which are strategically located in a food cart near the coaster’s exit. Arthur Levine, USA TODAY, "Disneyland's new Pixar Pier: Is it Incredible?," 10 July 2018 This shirt is far too proper to get anywhere near even the faint whiff of cow pie. Jacob Gallagher, WSJ, "The Chambray Shirt: Why Every Man Needs This All-American Staple," 3 July 2018

Recent Examples on the Web: Verb

Mickelson triple-bogeyed the first hole on Saturday to open his third round, whiffing on his second shot out of the right trees. Jesse Smithey, Detroit Free Press, "2018 Masters: Tiger Woods, Phil Mickelson stagnant on soggy Moving Day," 7 Apr. 2018 The Giants whiffed at nine fastballs and six curveballs. Matt Breen, Philly.com, "Aaron Nola dominates Giants with 12 strikeouts, showcases his change-up in Phillies win," 10 May 2018 While strikeouts in isolation aren’t overly concerning, the Pads are whiffing at an ugly rate. Tom Krasovic, sandiegouniontribune.com, "Even with low expectations, Padres are disappointing, underachieving," 23 Apr. 2018 Mickelson whiffed his second shot — a recovery attempt from the trees — on the first hole of his third round, ultimately taking a triple-bogey. Jesse Smithey, Detroit Free Press, "Masters 2018: Rickie Fowler's putter key to chasing leaders," 7 Apr. 2018 Saints rookie safety Marcus Williams whiffed on Diggs, and his dive took out Saints teammate Ken Crawley to clear the way for the Vikings touchdown. Andrew Joseph, For The Win, "Saints rookie Marcus Williams breaks silence after costly defensive mistake," 15 Jan. 2018 Speaking of striking out, Schwarber whiffed at a 31% clip last year. Steve Gardner, USA TODAY, "Fantasy baseball preview: Cubs add Yu Darvish to stacked roster," 12 Jan. 2018 Chirinos made an accurate peg to third base, but Beltre whiffed on the reception. Andy Mccullough, latimes.com, "Matt Kemp ejected in Dodgers' 3-2 extra-inning win over the Rangers," 14 June 2018 From 2015 to 2017, Goldschmidt whiffed at fastballs in the zone only 12.2 percent of the time. Nick Piecoro, azcentral, "Paul Goldschmidt’s slump extends as Diamondbacks lose again," 11 May 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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Statistics for whiff

Last Updated

21 Sep 2018

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)

: to notice (a smell)

baseball 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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Comments on whiff

What made you want to look up whiff? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


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