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, 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

But Posner’s whimsical, anarchic, eerily hypnotic works are otherwise unique in their style, sensibility, and goofy humor. Peter Keough, BostonGlobe.com, "Village theatricals; film and fashion; Posner on parade," 5 Apr. 2018 The objects are beautiful and whimsical, but also practical. Jennie Yabroff, Town & Country, "Inside Alexander Calder's New England Home," 20 Oct. 2017 The movie looks romantic, whimsical, even a bit surrealist. Kaitlin Menza, Redbook, "La La Land Trailer: Watch Ryan Gosling Sing and Dance With Emma Stone," 13 July 2016 His metronome was a hit with composers, among them his friend Ludwig von Beethoven who, caught in a rare whimsical mood, improvised a tune in honor of Maelzel’s machine. Paul Grimstad, The New Republic, "Can You Measure How Good a Song Is?," 21 June 2018 The ever-changing dessert lineup can feature items such as matcha mousse, Japanese cheesecakes and whimsical options fashioned into unicorns and bear paws. Lauren Delgado, OrlandoSentinel.com, "New coffee shops creating community spaces," 21 June 2018 Gadsby’s delivery, throughout the Netflix special, is both whimsical and droll. Rachel Syme, The New Republic, "Nanette Rewrites the History of Art," 3 July 2018 For this year's show, Fondation Maeght served as a whimsical and unpredictable playhouse. Mara Balagtas, Condé Nast Traveler, "Louis Vuitton's Cruise 2019 Show Took Over the French Riviera's Modern Art Haven," 29 May 2018 Powered by the Orange Show Center for Visionary Arts, the wide array of whimsical and unique vehicles rolled down Smith Street and showed off the wild imaginations of this year's participants. Daniela Sternitzky-di Napoli, Houston Chronicle, "Houston's annual Art Car Parade rolls through downtown," 14 Apr. 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

13 Sep 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).


a magnificent or impressive array

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