Definition of whammy in US English:



  • 1An event with a powerful and unpleasant effect; a blow.

    ‘the third whammy was the degradation of the financial system’
    See also double whammy
    • ‘Our economy suffered a triple whammy this year - we were hit by Sars, the Iraq war, and then the world economic downturn.’
    • ‘Playing the what-if game, the U.S. could face a quadruple whammy if OPEC stops cheating and Venezuela doesn't get its act together and a war disrupts Middle Eastern oil and we get a very cold winter.’
    • ‘But there can't be recovery if we triple and quadruple whammy these reefs.’
    • ‘Scottish Natural Heritage is facing a triple whammy of objections which are to be lodged with the Scottish parliament calling for an investigation into the activities of the conservation quango.’
    • ‘They have to think of one policy package and strategy to stop the triple whammy of falling stocks, bonds and the yen.’
    • ‘Mr Denham's departure was the third blow of a triple whammy that saw Leader of the House Robin Cook and two junior ministers, including Mr Denham, quit their jobs.’
    • ‘York Wasps suffered a triple whammy yesterday as the big winter freeze put paid to the New Year's Day clash against Swinton Lions.’
    • ‘‘When you have people who have a diet that's very high in animal fat, they get the full whammy of the contaminants,’ said David Carpenter, who supervised the St. Lawrence Island studies.’
    • ‘Maumere Bay is slowly recovering from a triple whammy: earthquake, tidal waves and a cyclone.’
    • ‘It had a triple whammy of problems: poor content, latencies and content not suitable for the format, as well as a bad UI.’
    • ‘He said: ‘This is very much a triple whammy for the motorist and even a quadruple whammy if you happen to drive a diesel-powered vehicle.’’
    • ‘The quadruple whammy is hitting winemakers like a 10-ton barrel.’
    • ‘So this week I've had the triple whammy of being busy, edgy and suddenly noticing a few people around seem to be looking unexpectedly good.’
    • ‘Shazia, growing up in the United Kingdom, faced the triple whammy of being Asian, Muslim and female.’
    • ‘The dinosaurs, they say, were killed not by a lone asteroid strike but by the quadruple whammy of global climate change, massive volcanism, and not one but two gigantic collisions.’
    • ‘But then the organisers came in with a whammy that left the undefeated team and its supporters scratching their heads!’
    • ‘Discrete little chunks of Thursday, that weren't goo-worthy in themselves, seem to have joined forces in the night and put the goo whammy on me this morning.’
    • ‘The final whammy is the twisted bowel operation.’
    • ‘The triple whammy of destruction greatly increases chances of developing an ‘age-related’ eye disease.’
    • ‘This extremely talkative Plateau-born downtown resident has been putting the hypnosis whammy on people for over 50 years now.’
    shock, surprise, bombshell, bolt from the blue, bolt out of the blue, thunderbolt, jolt, rude awakening
    View synonyms
    1. 1.1US An evil or unlucky influence.
      ‘I've come to put the whammy on them’
      • ‘Using 11 ‘magical crystals’ and a giant crystal ‘to receive and transmit positive thoughts,’ Geller put the whammy on the opposition.’


1940s: from the noun wham + -y; associated from the 1950s with the cartoon strip Li'l Abner, in which the hillbilly Evil-Eye Fleegle could ‘shoot a whammy’ (to put a curse on somebody) by pointing a finger with one eye open, and a ‘double whammy’ with both eyes open.