\ ˈwisp How to pronounce wisp (audio) \

Definition of wisp

 (Entry 1 of 2)

1 : a small handful (as of hay or straw)
2a : a thin strip or fragment
b : a thready streak a wisp of smoke
c : something frail, slight, or fleeting a wisp of a girl a wisp of a smile
3 archaic : will-o'-the-wisp


wisped; wisping; wisps

Definition of wisp (Entry 2 of 2)

transitive verb

1 : to roll into a wisp
2 : to make wisps of a cigarette wisping smoke at the corner of his mouth— Raymond Chandler

intransitive verb

: to emerge or drift in wisps her hair began to wisp into her eyes— Mary Manning

Keep scrolling for more

Other Words from wisp


wispily \ ˈwi-​spə-​lē How to pronounce wisp (audio) \ adverb
wispiness \ ˈwi-​spē-​nəs How to pronounce wisp (audio) \ noun
wispy \ ˈwi-​spē How to pronounce wisp (audio) \ adjective

Examples of wisp in a Sentence

Noun Wisps of steam rose up from the teapot. Wisps of cotton candy clung to his mouth.
Recent Examples on the Web: Noun There is no shortage of other possible explanations for the weak signal, which is essentially a thermal wisp of infrared photons—that is, of heat—that seems to originate from a source at the outer edge of Alpha Centauri A’s habitable zone. Lee Billings, Scientific American, "Is It a Planet? Astronomers Spy Promising Potential World around Alpha Centauri," 10 Feb. 2021 On a map, Alaska’s Aleutian Islands form an increasingly faint wisp of land arching across the North Pacific toward the Russian coast. Alex Fox, Smithsonian Magazine, "A Massive Supervolcano May Lurk Beneath Alaska’s Aleutian Islands," 9 Dec. 2020 But there is a risk that chasing the will-o’-the-wisp of austerity could leave Republicans lost in the electoral and policy marshes. Fred Bauer, National Review, "The GOP Should Think Twice before Returning to Austerity Politics," 8 Dec. 2020 The event made headlines when 6-year-old Ilana Kattan’s ponytail dipped into the flame and a wisp of smoke was visible around her head. Jonathan D. Sarna, The Conversation, "How Hanukkah came to be an annual White House celebration," 4 Dec. 2020 Then that coach gave way to Chip Kelly, who sized up Demetric Felton Jr. and saw more than a wisp of a player who should be primarily used at receiver with a handful of carries on gimmick plays. Ben Bolch, Los Angeles Times, "Demetric Felton Jr.'s big night on ground powers UCLA to victory over Arizona," 28 Nov. 2020 Some of the best hiking in a Joshua tree forest is at the edge of Dolan Springs, a wisp of a town north of Kingman. Roger Naylor, The Arizona Republic, "5 of the best fall hikes in Arizona: Here's how to explore these less crowded trails," 14 Oct. 2020 Their questions were not exactly perfunctory, but they were asked with only the thinnest wisp of optimism that they might be answered. Washington Post, "Amy Coney Barrett confirmation hearings," 13 Oct. 2020 What's left feels like a sort of droll curiosity; a wisp of eat-the-rich fantasy and Gallic farce, lost in its own je ne sais quoi. Leah Greenblatt, EW.com, "Michelle Pfeiffer and Lucas Hedges can't quite make the surreal comedy French Exit fly: Review," 11 Oct. 2020 Recent Examples on the Web: Verb Multiple outlets have reported the Duke and Duchess of Sussex’s son, Archie Mountbatten-Windsor, has wisps of reddish hair—which may mean he’s inherited the signature feature of his father, Prince Harry. Vogue, "Did Archie Mountbatten-Windsor Inherit Prince Harry’s Signature Feature?," 16 Aug. 2019 The gentle breeze of my ceiling fan has wisps of my dark hair dancing back and forth across the left side of my face. Meryl Davis, SELF, "Meryl Davis: Finding New Purpose After Life as an Olympian," 30 May 2018 Vessel’s 18 bedroom-style songs wisp away like seeds from a dandelion, each subsequent track feeling more fleeting than its predecessor. Kevin Warwick, Chicago Reader, "Frankie Cosmos delivers another aching, poignant record of two-minute indie-pop songs," 27 Apr. 2018

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'wisp.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

See More

First Known Use of wisp


13th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1


1753, in the meaning defined at transitive sense 1

History and Etymology for wisp


Middle English

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about wisp

Time Traveler for wisp

Time Traveler

The first known use of wisp was in the 13th century

See more words from the same century

Statistics for wisp

Last Updated

24 Feb 2021

Cite this Entry

“Wisp.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/wisp. Accessed 2 Mar. 2021.

Style: MLA
MLA Chicago APA Merriam-Webster

Keep scrolling for more

More Definitions for wisp



English Language Learners Definition of wisp

: a thin streak of smoke, mist, etc.
: a thin thread or strand of something (such as hair)
: a small amount of something


\ ˈwisp How to pronounce wisp (audio) \

Kids Definition of wisp

1 : a thin piece or strand wisps of hair
2 : a thin streak wisps of smoke
3 : a small amount of something There was a wisp of a smile on her face.

Keep scrolling for more

More from Merriam-Webster on wisp

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for wisp

Nglish: Translation of wisp for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of wisp for Arabic Speakers

Comments on wisp

What made you want to look up wisp? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


Test Your Vocabulary

February 2021 Words of the Day Quiz

  • squirrel in winter
  • Which is a synonym of perdure?
True or False

Test your knowledge - and maybe learn something along the way.

Universal Daily Crossword

A daily challenge for crossword fanatics.

Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!