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 whimsicality (audio) \ noun
whimsically \ ˈ(h)wim-​zi-​k(ə-​)lē How to pronounce whimsically (audio) \ adverb
whimsicalness \ ˈ(h)wim-​zi-​kəl-​nəs How to pronounce whimsicalness (audio) \ noun

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 For the one who loves fairy tales: A whimsical little fairy statue This popular little statue would make a fun present for anyone who needs a little magic in their life. Camryn Rabideau, USA TODAY, "30 incredible gifts you can get at Wayfair under $25," 19 Oct. 2020 Bruschi collaborated with plumassier et parurier floral Lemarié to create a pair of whimsical earrings, which looked not unlike Native American dream catchers. Tiziana Cardini, Vogue, "A Tour de Force of Upcycled Climbing Ropes, Sequins, 3D Space Mesh, and Plastic Leftovers Takes the Festival d’Hyères Grand Prize," 18 Oct. 2020 Wallpaper print has enjoyed a revival in 2020, as plisse, damask and toile de jouy prints made their return onto whimsical apparel this spring. Rachel Besser, Vogue, "The New Converse Collab Is Pure Art," 13 Oct. 2020 In Milford, only a year ago, the words antifa, boogaloo, and QAnon might as well have been whimsical names from a children’s book. Sarah Kopit, Bloomberg.com, "Disinformation Has Neighbors Fighting in Small-Town America," 9 Oct. 2020 Barkley then turned to Butler’s whimsical enterprise being operated out of his Disney hotel room, his everything-is-$20 Big Face Coffee pop-up. Ira Winderman, sun-sentinel.com, "Charles Barkley not a fan of Jimmy Butler’s hair or coffee pricing amid Heat NBA Finals run," 6 Oct. 2020 Most compelling tale wins a whimsical Amelia Island, Fla., refrigerator magnet. The Washington Post, "Talk about Travel," 5 Oct. 2020 Oh, and that whimsical chair in Bernice Garden in the South Main district … the pyramidal one, with the bird perched on top and boots as legs? Arkansas Online, "HIGH PROFILE: Architect Kwendeche known for being fun, quirky, off the beaten path," 4 Oct. 2020 His images are soothing backdrops, offering a whimsical utopia amid the chaotic metropolis. Amir Ahmadi Arian, The New York Review of Books, "The Martyrdom of Soleimani in the Propaganda Art of Iran," 30 Sep. 2020

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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Time Traveler for whimsical

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The first known use of whimsical was in 1653

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Last Updated

28 Oct 2020

Cite this Entry

“Whimsical.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/whimsical. Accessed 30 Oct. 2020.

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More Definitions for whimsical


How to pronounce whimsical (audio)

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

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for whimsical

Nglish: Translation of whimsical for Spanish Speakers

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