Definition of whim in English:



  • 1A sudden desire or change of mind, especially one that is unusual or unexplained.

    ‘she bought it on a whim’
    [mass noun] ‘he appeared and disappeared at whim’
    • ‘Typically the new apparel has been purchased on a whim since the user is aware that the existing pant selection is starting to show its age.’
    • ‘On a whim I pulled up the posters that lined the bottom of the cupboard.’
    • ‘Do I renew those two domain names that I bought on a whim when they seemed like a good idea?’
    • ‘Recorded in 1987 and conceived on a whim, it was a source of irritation to the band themselves.’
    • ‘I suppose one of the plus sides to being single now is that if I fancy take-out I can order it on a whim.’
    • ‘Regulations seem to be introduced, on a whim or a supposition, without any thought about how they are going to be enforced.’
    • ‘One of my ancestors could have got really fed up with the weather in the middle of a dull March in 1700 and moved off to Wisconsin on a whim.’
    • ‘A player who is selected on a whim could just as easily be dropped on a whim.’
    • ‘After the war Doohan on a whim enrolled in a drama class in Toronto.’
    • ‘Apparently on a whim, Wonka suddenly decides to reopen his doors to five children.’
    • ‘I guess we shouldn't be so surprised that Tizard leaves meetings on a whim.’
    • ‘When I started this weblog last October, it was more or less on a whim.’
    • ‘On a whim, I responded to one of them, asking whether she ever comes into Center City.’
    • ‘But the lesson Ken must learn from this is not to even consider spending so much of the council's money on a whim.’
    • ‘She did it on a whim when the opportunity presented itself, and she died four days later.’
    • ‘He opened the door on a whim, expecting nothing, but instead, he was faced with four sets of eyes.’
    • ‘I don't just go flying around the country on a whim, dammit, I'm a penniless student!’
    • ‘The assumption that Her Excellency just spent money on a whim is just plain wrong.’
    • ‘This one was bought on a whim one bright Sunday afternoon in 1997, from Clone Zone on Old Compton Street.’
    • ‘It's absurd to suggest that decisions like these can be taken on a whim by the Home Secretary.’
    capriciousness, whimsy, caprice, volatility, fickleness, idiosyncrasy, eccentricity, unpredictability
    impulse, urge, notion, fancy, whimsy, foible, idea, caprice, conceit, vagary, kink, megrim, crotchet, craze, fad, passion, inclination, bent
    View synonyms
  • 2archaic A windlass for raising ore or water from a mine.

    • ‘Work was soon hampered by an inflow of large volumes of underground water in several shafts, keeping the whims occupied day and night.’


Late 17th century: of unknown origin. whim (mid 18th century) is a transferred use.