: a capricious or eccentric and often sudden idea or turn of the mind : fancy
quit his job on a whim
: 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
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 real tyranny is being subjected to the whims of the most apparently urgent task, or of the loudest request in your in-box. Cal Newport, The New Yorker, 26 Jan. 2024 But the prisoners were still vulnerable to their captors’ whims. Meilan Solly, Smithsonian Magazine, 23 Jan. 2024 Being subject to the whims of death 24/7 means some of us get to say goodbye, some get advance-purchase airfares, a rare few will get both and most of us get neither. Carolyn Hax, Washington Post, 7 Jan. 2024 Says Becker, companies are starting to recognize that keeping up with the internet’s whims is unsustainable. Kara McGrath, Allure, 1 Dec. 2023 Meal prep does not work for my family as our schedules, and food whims, quickly change. Bhg Editors, Better Homes & Gardens, 12 Jan. 2024 Multiple sources on the web put it at anywhere from a few hours to three weeks, depending on the whims of Google's review system. Ron Amadeo, Ars Technica, 1 Dec. 2023 These trials and their outcomes may have the practical effect of making voters’ preferences in the election dependent on the whims of judges and juries. Peter Tonguette, Washington Examiner, 12 Jan. 2024 Unlike the reception or other pre-wedding events that feature traditional elements like speeches or cake cutting, the after-party is one of the only celebrations that can be crafted entirely to the whims of the couple. Shelby Wax, Vogue, 11 Jan. 2024 See More

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'whim.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History


short for whim-wham

First Known Use

1686, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Time Traveler
The first known use of whim was in 1686

Dictionary Entries Near whim

Cite this Entry

“Whim.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/whim. Accessed 21 Feb. 2024.

Kids Definition


ˈhwim How to pronounce whim (audio)
: an odd or sudden wish, desire, or change of mind

More from Merriam-Webster on whim

Last Updated: - Updated example sentences
Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!