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

And he's turned out an additional 20 or so books, ranging from the whimsical to the profound, over the past 30 years. Debra Bruno, chicagotribune.com, "Put down the phone, look at the world around you, waste a little time," 3 July 2018 The 25-year-old rapper debuted a colorfully whimsical look, complete with blue and pink hair down to her hips and rainbow bangs. Melissa Minton, Allure, "Cardi B Debuts Rainbow Wig and Matching Heels in a New Instagram Celebrating Her Pregnancy," 7 June 2018 Cut-outs of Warren Buffett’s face, promoting Yahoo Finance’s recent live coverage of the Berkshire Hathaway’s annual meeting, seem to be everywhere, the octogenarian’s likeness clashing with the whimsical startup accoutrements. Erin Griffith, WIRED, "Can Verizon Build a Strong Brand From the Bones of Yahoo and AOL?," 15 June 2018 Then comes what looks like a miniature coconut of chocolate that is filled with coconut and pineapple mousse, creating a whimsical but fully integrated finale. Michael Bauer, SFChronicle.com, "Atelier Crenn: SF’s newest 4-star restaurant," 29 June 2018 Madre keeps a base of a la carte signature tacos that anchor the menu, while the rest of the lineup stays in dynamic flux, giving the kitchen staff ample room to take whimsical liberties with the almighty taco. James Patrick Kelly, idahostatesman, "Boise’s trendy new taquerias redefine the taco – and diners get to taste the difference," 27 June 2018 With whimsical animations, courtesy of The Selby, Kerr takes us along for a day’s worth of cool mom activities, some wilder than others. Janelle Okwodu, Vogue, "Miranda Kerr Rewrites the Maternity Fashion Rules at Home With The Selby," 19 Apr. 2018 Aristophanes had political intentions too, and often whimsical ways of expressing them. Tony Adler, Chicago Reader, "In four hours, the Aristophanesathon never cracks the whimsy barrier," 18 Apr. 2018 Critics say the service gives rich tech employees a whimsical way to bar-hop at the expense of crowded and dangerous sidewalks. Fortune, "The New Battle Between Cities and Ride Sharing Apps Is About Motorized Scooters," 18 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







Statistics for whimsical

Last Updated

8 Nov 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).


obstinately defiant of authority

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