\ 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

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Other Words from wisp


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

Examples of wisp in a Sentence


Wisps of steam rose up from the teapot. Wisps of cotton candy clung to his mouth.

Recent Examples on the Web: Noun

Here's the complete field ] (Photo: Mandi Wright, Detroit Free Press) But an hour south of Grand Blanc, there was a quiet wisp of hope. Carlos Monarrez, Detroit Free Press, "How Detroit Golf Club landed the PGA Tour's Rocket Mortgage Classic," 23 June 2019 Dip the wisp into the color, drag it through the puddle of lacquer a few times, then touch up the color of the patch. Jeanne Huber, Washington Post, "Cracked kitchen tiles? Try a patch.," 10 June 2019 For instance, a tiny quote of Chopin in the 21st, a spectral wisp of a phrase on the piano, serves as an eerily eloquent evocation of a past not allowed to be buried. Mark Swed, latimes.com, "Review: Mirga’s first major recording is a magical debut," 5 June 2019 In the brightening dawn, a wisp of cloud formed above the valley where many of the miners came from. Carlo Gabuco, National Geographic, "Death rituals help restless spirits find peace in the Philippines," 9 Apr. 2019 Twisted under the glass lies a wisp of brown and gray hair, woven into a minute design reminiscent of a Celtic knot. Stuart Sanders, The Courier-Journal, "Before Burr shot Hamilton, this 1800s Kentucky duel ended in bloodshed," 13 June 2019 Day 1: Three Forks About half an hour due west of Bozeman is Three Forks, a quiet wisp of a town. Todd Plummer, Vogue, "Bozeman, Butte, Big Sky, and Back: The Ultimate Southwest Montana Road Trip," 31 Aug. 2018 Here are some of our favorite new gadgets on the market: Microsoft Surface GoThis 10-inch tablet weighs just a wisp over a pound and actually fits on a tray table. Paul Brady, Condé Nast Traveler, "Four New Gadgets to Step Up Your Next Flight," 17 Oct. 2018 In r/Asceticism, Snoo dematerializes into the cyberether, its form the mere wisp of an outline. Arielle Pardes, WIRED, "The Transformative Power of Reddit's Alien Mascot," 6 July 2018

Recent Examples on the Web: Verb

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.

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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

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Statistics for wisp

Last Updated

4 Jul 2019

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for wisp

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

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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.

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More from Merriam-Webster on wisp

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with wisp

Spanish Central: Translation of wisp

Nglish: Translation of wisp for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of wisp for Arabic Speakers

Comments on wisp

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to complain fretfully

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