\ ˈhwim , ˈwim \

Definition of whim 

1 : a capricious or eccentric and often sudden idea or turn of the mind : fancy quit his job on a whim

2 : a large capstan that is made with one or more radiating arms to which a horse may be yoked and that is used in mines for raising ore or water

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Choose the Right Synonym for whim

caprice, whim, vagary, crotchet mean an irrational or unpredictable idea or desire. caprice stresses lack of apparent motivation and suggests willfulness. by sheer caprice she quit her job whim implies a fantastic, capricious turn of mind or inclination. an odd antique that was bought on a whim vagary stresses the erratic, irresponsible character of the notion or desire. he had been prone to strange vagaries crotchet implies an eccentric opinion or preference. a serious scientist equally known for his bizarre crotchets

Examples of whim in a Sentence

It's hard to predict voters' whims. on a whim, we stopped at the roadside stand to get ice cream

Recent Examples on the Web

The airline sector tends to be highly cyclical, exposed to the whims of the broader economy. Robert Wall, WSJ, "Private Equity Makes Leasing Planes a Hot Commodity," 4 July 2018 He and Cheryl, whose voice is woefully muted for much of the book’s first 100 pages, are subject to the whims of the white family who has welcomed—or, perhaps more accurately, claimed—them, but their blackness is never called into question. Hannah Giorgis, The Atlantic, "Rumaan Alam Ponders the Limits of Parental Love," 15 May 2018 Even with the high-level European lobbying effort, and progress by negotiators, sources within and close to the Trump administration tell CNN that the White House -- subject to the whims of the ever-impulsive President -- is ready to leave the deal. Nicole Gaouette, CNN, "Macron will have to 'pull a rabbit out of the hat' to save Iran deal," 24 Apr. 2018 The president is unpopular in many suburban and other swing districts, and many Republicans don't want their leader to be viewed as beholden to the whims of the unpredictable president. Amy Lieu, Fox News, "McCarthy emerges as a front-runner to succeed Ryan as House speaker," 16 Apr. 2018 Unlike our current fragmented mess of a health care system, Medicare-for-all would ensure that Americans no longer have their health outcomes determined by the free market’s whims. Ed Kilgore, Daily Intelligencer, "Medicare for All Won’t Bring Medicare to All," 13 July 2018 The French showed why and how a cohesive team will always trump a squad built around the whims of an individual, and came roaring back to win 4-3 and book a spot in the quarterfinals. Martin Rogers, USA TODAY, "Messi comes up short again, new star arises as France eliminates Argentina at World Cup," 30 June 2018 But Batchelor argued that an independent council would be protected from the whims of politicians. Kate Santich, OrlandoSentinel.com, "Mayor Teresa Jacobs pitches additional $20 million for Orange County children," 26 June 2018 The board's actions drew immediate criticism from many teachers and education leaders, who said that, under the 1990 Kentucky Education Reform Act, the education department is supposed to remain insulated from the whims of partisan politics. Mandy Mclaren, The Courier-Journal, "Hal Heiner could become chairman of state ed board under rules change," 6 June 2018

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

1686, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for whim

short for whim-wham

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Dictionary Entries near whim






whim gin


Statistics for whim

Last Updated

9 Sep 2018

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for whim

The first known use of whim was in 1686

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More Definitions for whim



English Language Learners Definition of whim

: a sudden wish, desire, decision, etc.


\ ˈhwim , ˈwim \

Kids Definition of whim

: a sudden wish or desire : a sudden change of mind

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Comments on whim

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


the setting in which something occurs

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