whim·​si·​cal | \ˈhwim-zi-kəl, ˈwim-\

Definition of whimsical 

1a : resulting from or characterized by whim or caprice especially : lightly fanciful whimsical decorations

b : subject to erratic behavior or unpredictable change

2 : full of, actuated by, or exhibiting whims

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Other Words from whimsical

whimsicality \ˌhwim-​zə-​ˈka-​lə-​tē, ˌwim-​ \ noun
whimsically \ˈhwim-​zi-​k(ə-​)lē, ˈwim-​ \ adverb
whimsicalness \ˈhwim-​zi-​kəl-​nəs, ˈwim-​ \ noun

Synonyms for whimsical


capricious, freakish, impulsive

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Trace Whimsical Back to the 16th Century

As you may have guessed, the words whimsical, whim, and whimsy are related. All three ultimately derive from the word whim-wham ("a whimsical object" or "a whim"), which is of unknown origin and dates to at least 1500. Whimsy was the first of the three to spin off from whim-wham, debuting in print in 1605. English speakers then added the adjective suffix -ical to whimsy to create whimsical, dating from 1653. Whim, which came about as a shortened version of whim-wham, appeared as early as 1641 in a sense that is now obsolete, but its current sense of "a sudden wish, desire, or change of mind" didn't appear in print until 1686.

Examples of whimsical in a Sentence

You can practically taste the tropics in these whimsical doughnuts. Ripe bananas, toasted coconut and your favorite rum transform traditional doughnuts into paradisiacal ones. — Janice Wald Henderson, Chocolatier, March 2001 Unlike the broad slapstick humor of Musical Mose and other early Herriman strips, Krazy Kat was gentle, fey, and whimsical. — Jeet Heer, Lingua Franca, September 2001 In the whimsical linguistics of theoretical physics, the "naked" electron is an imaginary object cut off from the influences of the field, whereas a "dressed" electron carries the imprint of the universe, but it is all buried in extremely tiny modifications to its bare properties. — Leon Lederman et al., The God Particle, 1993 She has a whimsical sense of humor. it's hard to make plans with such a whimsical best friend
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Recent Examples on the Web

The poodle statue next to the toilet is a whimsical touch. Diana Oates, Condé Nast Traveler, "10 Best Hotels in Houston," 9 Oct. 2018 The trademark of Lingua Franca sweaters were embroidered hip hop lyrics in a whimsical cursive font—that is, until Donald Trump became president. Marina Liao, Marie Claire, "Show You "Give a Damn" With This New Bag Benefitting She Should Run," 5 Oct. 2018 From Hello Kitty envelopes with matching sticker sets to erasers shaped like the depressive—and massively popular—cartoon egg, Gudetama, Kiddyland is a one stop shop for whimsical desk accessories. Janelle Okwodu, Vogue, "A Guide to the Cutest, Coolest, and Craziest Stationary in Tokyo," 19 Mar. 2018 See more fine china for kids: Bowl A whimsical bowl makes a meal fun for everyone. Catherine Lee Davis, House Beautiful, "A Formal, But Fun Kids' Tablescape," 6 Nov. 2013 Squishies, expected to be one of the biggest sellers this holiday season, are pillow-soft foam toys that look like cute animals, whimsical characters or surprisingly realistic food and usually cost between $3 and $20. Ellen Byron, WSJ, "This Year’s Holiday Toy Craze Involves a Lot of Squishing," 13 Nov. 2018 Jarreau Wimberly, an illustrator and graphic designer given to whimsical ties and mismatched prints, recently joined the Kata team after fifteen years of drawing illustrations for places like Marvel, Hasbro, and Blizzard. Jacqueline Detwiler, Popular Mechanics, "The Heroes of Science Who Are Unlocking the Brain," 3 Oct. 2018 Emily Blunt stars as the titular whimsical nanny, made famous by Julie Andrews in the 1964 film. Erica Gonzales, Harper's BAZAAR, "The Official Trailer for Mary Poppins Returns Is Here and It's Absolutely Magical," 17 Sep. 2018 On her album cover, Cardi stays true to her whimsical, eye-catching style that still has roots in classic tailoring and retro shapes. Avery Matera, Teen Vogue, "Cardi B Wears Designer Christian Cowan On “Invasion of Privacy” Cover," 27 Mar. 2018

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

1653, in the meaning defined at sense 2

History and Etymology for whimsical


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Dictionary Entries near whimsical

whim gin







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Last Updated

6 Dec 2018

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Time Traveler for whimsical

The first known use of whimsical was in 1653

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More Definitions for whimsical



English Language Learners Definition of whimsical

: unusual in a playful or amusing way : not serious


whim·​si·​cal | \ˈhwim-zi-kəl, ˈwim-\

Kids Definition of whimsical

1 : full of whims

2 : unusual in a playful or amusing way a whimsical tale of youth

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More from Merriam-Webster on whimsical

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for whimsical

Spanish Central: Translation of whimsical

Nglish: Translation of whimsical for Spanish Speakers

Comments on whimsical

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


the figure or shape of a crescent moon

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