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

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 In Lower Manhattan, Ziggy, a whimsical art installation that resembles a glowing neon jungle gym, doubles as outdoor seating on Water Street. New York Times, "Igloos and Iceless Curling: How New York Hopes to Fight Off a Grim Winter," 5 Jan. 2021 The whimsical photos depict Nicki dolled up in a blue and white striped two-piece outfit standing next to a giant ice cream cone. Jasmine Grant, Essence, "Yes, Queen! Nicki Minaj Answers Her Fans' Questions About Giving Birth," 31 Dec. 2020 In its earliest mentions, lemon pigs served as little more than a tabletop ornament meant to amuse and surprise children and some whimsical adults. Scottie Andrew, CNN, "Want good luck in the new year? Make yourself a lemon pig," 31 Dec. 2020 In 2015, Varnado took over the small, whimsical building in the Hollywood District that for decades had housed the Hollywood Burger Bar -- and before that had been a trolley stop. oregonlive, "Woman indicted on arson charges for fire that damaged Northeast Portland’s popular Reo’s Ribs," 30 Dec. 2020 The song, which the 73-year-old singer has introduced via a laidback video of him performing in his Norwich home, is more philosophical than whimsical. Christopher Arnott, courant.com, "Connecticut’s Tom Callinan bids an unfond farewell to 2020 with new song," 29 Dec. 2020 In her 21 years, the social media star — Shay Rose is a pseudonym — has built a mammoth following on TikTok and Instagram with handmade whimsical costumes that re-create looks from Disney princesses to Lady Gaga. Laura Zornosa, Los Angeles Times, "This UCLA student made her own social distancing bubble — as a 12-foot-wide dress," 28 Dec. 2020 Soul has the aesthetics of a whimsical adventure, but its themes are very raw. David Sims, The Atlantic, "Soul Is Another Cerebral Winner From Pixar," 25 Dec. 2020 The whimsical, festive holiday event returns with a bounty of poinsettias, holly and conifer trees, along with an array of lighting displays, decorated Christmas trees, gingerbread houses and photo opportunities. Anne Nickoloff, cleveland, "16 things to do in Cleveland this weekend, Dec. 25-27," 24 Dec. 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

14 Jan 2021

Cite this Entry

“Whimsical.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/whimsical. Accessed 23 Jan. 2021.

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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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