\ 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

And then, of course, there was the tie-less look of Yang, which, though controversial, at least had the whiff of authenticity. Adam Tschorn, latimes.com, "The 2020 Democratic debates: A pop of red, a naked neck and a sea of navy blue," 28 June 2019 Naeher hasn’t had that much action in this tournament, but her whiff against Chile that allowed the ball to go in the net (it was waived off for offside) didn’t help matters. Grant Wahl, SI.com, "USA Ready For 'S--tshow Circus' of a Quarterfinal vs. France After Surviving Spain," 24 June 2019 Inside, the place was quiet, cute, the walls entirely white, with a whiff of transience. John Gastaldo, National Geographic, "Navigating the booming cost of urban life," 12 June 2019 There are so many whiffs that baseball could get into the wind farm business. Globe Staff, BostonGlobe.com, "You get a whiff of failure when boiling down baseball numbers," 22 June 2019 Freedom of Worship is the only one with neither a discernable setting nor even a whiff of narrative. Brian T. Allen, National Review, "A Closer Look at Rockwell’s Four Freedoms," 22 June 2019 But what’s being tested in these experiments is quantum mechanics itself, so there’s a whiff of circularity. Quanta Magazine, "Closed Loophole Confirms the Unreality of the Quantum World," 25 July 2018 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

Recent Examples on the Web: Verb

Ray has been a strikout artist for Arizona, whiffing 129 and trailing only the Nationals’ Max Scherzer (170) and Stephen Strasburg (138) in the National League. Patrick Saunders, The Denver Post, "Kyle Freeland improves command, confidence as he eyes return to Rockies," 5 July 2019 He's thrown the pitch 27.37% of the time this season, and opposing hitters have whiffed on it 16% of the time. Jon Meoli, baltimoresun.com, "Orioles' breakout rookie starter John Means selected to 2019 MLB All-Star Game," 30 June 2019 But second baseman Brendan Rodgers whiffed on Story’s short throw to second base, and instead of being out of the inning, Senzatela faced two on and only one out. Patrick Saunders, The Denver Post, "Rockies’ Antonio Senzatela outpitched Jacob deGrom to beat Mets," 7 June 2019 That’s partly due to growing digital operations at the three broadcast news organizations, as well as the sense that news organizations whiffed on the story in 2016. Washington Post, "TV networks staffing up to cover 2020 presidential election," 6 June 2019 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

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

13 Jul 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

Comments on whiff

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to form ideas or theories about something

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