\ ˈhwif How to pronounce whiff (audio) , 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

The perfumer cites Maurizio Cattlelan as an influence; the slight animalistic whiff is presumably a nod to the Italian artist’s controversial taxidermy installations. Chioma Nnadi, Vogue, "A New Series of Art World Perfumes Is Challenging What It Means to Smell Good," 24 May 2019 The sense of smell is intrinsically tied to nostalgia—a whiff of something familiar can instantly trigger memories of the past. Caroline Hallemann, Town & Country, "Now You Can Smell Like Marie Antoinette, Jane Austen, and Anne Boleyn," 1 June 2016 Any whiff of Reefer Madness hyperbole is perfectly calibrated to trigger an adolescent's instinctive skepticism for whatever an adult suggests. Claudia Wallis, Scientific American, "What Pot Really Does to the Teen Brain," 1 Dec. 2017 To focus instead on Tibbetts had a whiff of desperation about it, from a president who’s often been accused of trying to distract the press from bad news by feeding the base red meat. Dara Lind, Vox, "Trump has made Mollie Tibbetts the latest martyr in his anti-immigrant crusade," 24 Aug. 2018 But those visiting do not even have to leave the hotel to get a whiff of art, making the Royal Monceau not just a luxury hotel destination but one for art enthusiasts and collectors. Hannah Seligson, Town & Country, "This Paris Hotel's Art Concierge Provides the Ultimate Insider Travel Experience," 9 Aug. 2018 Under the too-bright recessed lighting of an anonymous hotel bar on Broadway, his overly manicured facial hair had a whiff of disingenuous creep, too. Chioma Nnadi, Vogue, "After 10 Years of Dating in New York, This Is What I’ve Learned," 11 Feb. 2019 This has a whiff of the controversy Republican Paul Mango had to deal with this year. Chris Brennan, Philly.com, "Nancy Pelosi pals around with convicted tax dodger at Dems fundraiser in Philly," 13 July 2018 Worrying about one’s own narcissism has a whiff of paradox. Anthony Gottlieb, New York Times, "How We Got to Be So Self-Absorbed: The Long Story," 21 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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Statistics for whiff

Last Updated

15 Jun 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 How to pronounce whiff (audio) , 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

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