whim·​si·​cal | \ ˈ(h)wim-zi-kəl How to pronounce whimsical (audio) \

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 \ ˌ(h)wim-​zə-​ˈka-​lə-​tē How to pronounce whimsical (audio) \ noun
whimsically \ ˈ(h)wim-​zi-​k(ə-​)lē How to pronounce whimsical (audio) \ adverb
whimsicalness \ ˈ(h)wim-​zi-​kəl-​nəs How to pronounce whimsical (audio) \ noun

Synonyms for whimsical


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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 As usual, Spurlock’s work is whimsical and wide-ranging. Washington Post, 15 Oct. 2021 Her paintings are whimsical and colorful, adding a touch of levity to any space. Nafeesah Allen, House Beautiful, 27 Sep. 2021 Audiences and contestants alike will be transported into a wild, whimsical Frogger world, filled with all the simple but challenging elements of the mega-hit from Konami. Christopher Ros, Glamour, 5 Sep. 2021 The Something Navy stores were whimsical and feminine, for example, festooned with fake flowers and pastel furnishings. Anne Kadet, WSJ, 22 June 2021 An adjoining upstairs office morphed into a cozier and more whimsical sleeping space with a skylight above the bed offering a view of oak branches swaying in the breeze. Susan Degrane, chicagotribune.com, 28 Sep. 2021 The whimsical music video features cartoon versions of the dynamic duo in and out of the recording studio. Robin Raven, Forbes, 20 Sep. 2021 On Top, the passion project of Cerise Zelenetz, an illustrator who gave the interior of the space a whimsical flourish. Lilah Ramzi, Vogue, 17 Sep. 2021 Sling chairs in a whimsical watercolor print sit in a colorful corner near the fireplace. Carisha Swanson, House Beautiful, 16 Sep. 2021

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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The first known use of whimsical was in 1653

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Last Updated

17 Oct 2021

Cite this Entry

“Whimsical.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/whimsical. Accessed 21 Oct. 2021.

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English Language Learners Definition of whimsical

: unusual in a playful or amusing way : not serious


whim·​si·​cal | \ ˈhwim-zi-kəl How to pronounce whimsical (audio) , ˈwim- \

Kids Definition of whimsical

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

More from Merriam-Webster on whimsical

Nglish: Translation of whimsical for Spanish Speakers


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