whim·​si·​cal ˈ(h)wim-zi-kəl How to pronounce whimsical (audio)
: resulting from or characterized by whim or caprice
especially : lightly fanciful
whimsical decorations
: subject to erratic behavior or unpredictable change
: full of, actuated by, or exhibiting whims
whimsicality noun
whimsically adverb
whimsicalness noun

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Trace Whimsical Back to the 16th Century

Whimsical and the related nouns whim and whimsy all ultimately derive from whim-wham, a noun from the early 16th century that originally referred to an ornamental object or trinket. Later whim-wham, with its fun sound, came to refer to a fantastic notion or odd fancy. The word's origin isn't clear, but it's worth noting that the similar-sounding flimflam had, in its earliest use, a similar meaning referring to an odd or nonsensical idea or tale. Whim naturally came about as a shortened form of whim-wham, and whimsy and whimsical eventually followed. Whimsical now describes more than just decisions made impulsively, but things resulting from an unrestrained imagination, as in "whimsical children's book characters."

Example Sentences

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
Recent Examples on the Web And for the collector of fashion accessories, these cartoonish pendant earrings from Marni are whimsical and joyous, made for igniting conversations. Ella Riley-adams Kurt Soller Alice Newell-hanson Angela Koh Carla Valdivia Nakatani Jinnie Lee Carla Valdivia Nakatani Caitlin Kelly, New York Times, 2 Feb. 2023 Don't forget to pull out tendrils by your ear for an added whimsical touch. Jasmine Washington, Seventeen, 18 Jan. 2023 There’s a whimsical touch in these details, most of which are revealed because of Ethan’s desire to peer into every nook and cranny. Lovia Gyarkye, The Hollywood Reporter, 21 Nov. 2022 For a designer diaper bag with a whimsical touch, Moschino's cotton flap bag is sweet and sleek. Laura Lajiness Kaupke, Harper's BAZAAR, 14 Nov. 2022 Instead of ending your makeup at the eyes, bring your brush down the bridge of your nose to add a whimsical touch. Taylor Lane, Peoplemag, 12 Oct. 2022 All the colors of the rainbow brought a whimsical touch to this sophisticated outfit. Sara Miranda, Allure, 22 Nov. 2021 His work, whimsical and beautiful, is crafted in his Near West Side studio. Rick Kogan, Chicago Tribune, 5 Jan. 2023 To make this whimsical and eye-catching cake, create your very own candy cane forest with various sized and shaped candy canes. Beth Branch, Country Living, 22 Dec. 2022 See More

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.

Word History



First Known Use

1653, in the meaning defined at sense 2

Time Traveler
The first known use of whimsical was in 1653


Dictionary Entries Near whimsical

Cite this Entry

“Whimsical.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/whimsical. Accessed 8 Feb. 2023.

Kids Definition


whim·​si·​cal ˈhwim-zi-kəl How to pronounce whimsical (audio)
: full of whims : capricious
a whimsical person always going off somewhere
: resulting from or marked by whim : erratic
whimsical behavior
whimsicality noun
whimsically adverb

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