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 No matter how polished, there’s still a certain way these pieces feel whimsical, undone, and even imperfect—all of which are appealing traits at the moment. Rachel Besser, Vogue, "Knitted, Stitched, or Crocheted—Shop Textured Pieces for Spring," 19 Apr. 2021 Sometimes, identifying a new variant by its characteristic mutation can be enough, especially when the mutations gain whimsical names. New York Times, "Why Virus Variants Have Such Weird Names," 2 Mar. 2021 Located at 1629 Abbot Kinney Boulevard, this converted bungalow is fun, whimsical, and provides a unique shopping experience that’s much needed right now. Amanda Lauren, Forbes, "The Novogratz Opens Up Its First Furniture Store In Los Angeles," 19 Apr. 2021 From whimsical to grand, these pots with pizzazz from private and public gardens will inspire and teach you to design your own potted masterpieces. courant.com, "Community News For The Vernon Edition," 16 Apr. 2021 Other pastries are similarly whimsical, such as a nostalgic peanut butter shortbread cookie that looks like Nabisco’s iconic Nutter Butter. Omar Mamoon, San Francisco Chronicle, "An S.F. pastry chef with Michelin cred is making a solo pastry box - with fancy Nutter Butters and more," 3 Feb. 2021 While her whimsical wedding was nothing short of a fairytale, eight months later, the 30-year-old singer filed for divorce from Michael, according to a People exclusive. Rebecca Norris, Country Living, "Country Artist Carly Pearce Files for Divorce from Michael Ray After 8 Months of Marriage," 24 June 2020 The ceramics in the shop's store range from whimsical to practical, including great finds like their alien figures collection, ghostly salt and pepper shakers, and more. Madison Durham, USA TODAY, "14 amazing women-owned shops you can find on Etsy," 2 Mar. 2021 Visionary leaders may sometimes be seen as outlandish or whimsical by others. Sherrie Suski, Forbes, "Inspirational Or Visionary: Which Leader Are You?," 1 Mar. 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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Time Traveler for whimsical

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The first known use of whimsical was in 1653

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Last Updated

14 May 2021

Cite this Entry

“Whimsical.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/whimsical. Accessed 15 May. 2021.

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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 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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