\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

Behind him is rookie Domingo German, who has swing-and-miss stuff (10.5 whiffs per nine) but hasn’t translated that into reliable results (a 5.32 ERA and 11 homers given up in 64 1/3 frames). Si.com Staff, SI.com, "Nine Innings: Solving the Yankees' Sonny Gray Problem, AL East Deciding Factors and Our Favorite Statcast Quirks," 2 July 2018 Or worse still, a putrid whiff of BO? (Sadly, my fragrance-free salt wand had usually stopped working by noon.) Hugging and high-fiving were now completely out of the question. Chioma Nnadi, Vogue, "Why I’m Never Using Drugstore Antiperspirants Again," 23 May 2018 Coming off his best start of the season (six innings, four hits, one run, six whiffs at Texas), Triggs is ensconced in the rotation of a team that is showing moxie and promise. Lawr Michaels, USA TODAY, "Fantasy baseball sizzlers, fizzlers: Franchy Cordero powers forward," 1 May 2018 Much like a traditional buffalo sauce, the Bird’s Nest hot sauce is strong and vinegar-y enough to clear your sinuses in one whiff, even more so than your average hot sauce. Adam Lukach, RedEye Chicago, "10 of our favorite chicken wing spots in Chicago," 30 Apr. 2018 And at this point, spotting her signature outfit is as comforting to me as catching a whiff of my favorite calming candle. Lourdes Avila Uribe, Glamour, "Amy Poehler's Making It Overalls Are the Only Pure Thing Left in the World," 16 Oct. 2018 After being in the public arena of 36 years without a hint, a whiff of an allegation like this. Caroline Hallemann, Town & Country, "Read the Full Transcript of Brett Kavanaugh's Opening Statement at Today's Hearing," 27 Sep. 2018 There’s a whiff of wifi, but no guarantee, and only a sliver of cell service. Elizabeth Wellington, Vogue, "This French Island Is the Nantucket of the Mediterranean," 16 Aug. 2018 Parisian leaders are trying to tackle a problem that is evident to anyone who’s ever tried to catch a glimpse of a historic site in a historic city and instead caught a foul-smelling whiff of stale urine. Cleve R. Wootson Jr., The Seattle Times, "Paris tries a solution to peeing on historic streets: open sidewalk urinals," 14 Aug. 2018

Recent Examples on the Web: Verb

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 While the Magic have a need for star talent and might be tempted by Michael Porter or Trae Young, Orlando can also ill-afford to whiff on this selection. Jeremy Woo, SI.com, "2018 NBA Mock Draft 11.0: Trade Rumors and Final Picks for Both Rounds," 21 June 2018 Stanton’s two five-strikeout games, bookending New York’s first homestand, made him the third player ever to whiff five times twice in a season. Jorge L. Ortiz, USA TODAY, "Yankees' Giancarlo Stanton's sluggish start drawing boo's," 18 Apr. 2018 Velasquez has whiffed 24 batters and owns a 26.1% strikeout rate in 21 1/3 innings this season. Michael Beller, SI.com, "Mallex Smith a Silver Lining in Tampa, Top Waiver Target," 21 Apr. 2018 Castro got Judge to whiff on a slider to sit the Bronx crowd down once again. Jon Meoli, baltimoresun.com, "Pedro Álvarez hits tiebreaking grand slam in 14th, gives Orioles 7-3 win over Yankees," 7 Apr. 2018 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

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

30 Nov 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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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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the figure or shape of a crescent moon

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