Definition of whimsy in US English:


(also whimsey)


  • 1Playfully quaint or fanciful behavior or humor.

    ‘the film is an awkward blend of whimsy and moralizing’
    • ‘It's a simple love song for a beautiful creature, but then out of whimsy, suddenly there's a Dixie band in it.’
    • ‘Jarmusch directs with a deadpan tone throughout, always at a slow, sometimes funereal pace, his humour full of whimsy and subversion but prone to moments of idiosyncrasy that slip towards pretension.’
    • ‘What he's looking for in a bona fide getaway place is fun, informality, joy, whimsy, self-expression, magnificent land, views and an opportunity for magical experiences.’
    • ‘The film certainly succeeds in doing that - but it also taps into Barrie's well-documented yearning for a world in which playfulness and whimsy would always triumph over seriousness and propriety.’
    • ‘An acute political awareness and a fondness for '50s comic strips inform his odd blend of malevolence and whimsy.’
    • ‘In my opinion the eyes are almost the most important part of the toy, giving it so much personality - humour, whimsy, cuteness, scariness and so on.’
    • ‘As if historical fact weren't enough, Jones also shows a fondness for, and in fact a deft hand with, fanciful flights of whimsy.’
    • ‘There's nothing I despise more than whimsy, in any shape or form.’
    • ‘The trio brings appropriate whimsy to Gorey's playfully macabre material, an accordion main soundtrack to besotted mothers and weeping chandeliers.’
    • ‘I was wondering whether the vulnerable human capacities for joy, whimsy, and humour have been clamped down upon by the collective unconscious.’
    • ‘The writing is her usual blend of charming whimsy, heartbreaking poignancy and sometimes impenetrable surrealism.’
    • ‘It's easy to notice that these miscreants are overwhelmingly white, educated, and well-heeled enough to sink enormous expense and labor into realizing a few days of whimsy and weirdness.’
    • ‘Sandler's a ridiculous romantic lead, but when the tone of the film matches his awkward effort with pure whimsy, it's light fun.’
    • ‘Do not allow yourself any capricious acts of whimsy, be precise and calculated, erring (if you must) on the side of mercy and the greater good.’
    • ‘Come celebrate with the young artists in attendance as they inject fresh colour, life, scent, spirit, humour and unselfconscious whimsy into our art scene.’
    • ‘It's difficult in the space of just 125 words to summon whimsy, erudition, truth and humour, while at the same time getting under the skin of your reader, but Williams manages it there.’
    • ‘Some jokes fall flat, shifting the harmonic balance from whimsy to awkward.’
    • ‘Though her subject matter is grim, Turke approaches it with whimsy and much humour.’
    • ‘That blend of art and whimsy epitomizes both Frank and his hometown.’
    • ‘I've beta-tested this at various points and at each time I've been struck by Ludicorp's amazing combination of utilitarian, usable interface aesthetic and genuinely witty whimsy.’
    unconventionality, unorthodoxy, singularity, oddness, queerness, strangeness, weirdness, bizarreness, quirkiness, freakishness, extraordinariness
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    1. 1.1 A whim.
      • ‘Nothing can be called a sport that depends on the whimsy of ‘artistic impression’ and the opinions of nine judges.’
      • ‘This isn't to claim our deepest convictions guide us only so far as the whimsy of the moment will allow.’
      • ‘Fate and fortune, both good and ill, are sown by the whimsy of God.’
      • ‘I noticed that Paul Johnson has dropped the whimsy and got stuck in to some serious vitriol throwing.’
      • ‘At the whimsy of the jail administration, months of hard work sealing the cracks with toothpaste were rendered redundant.’
      impulse, urge, notion, fancy, foible, idea, caprice, conceit, vagary, kink, megrim, crotchet, craze, fad, passion, inclination, bent
      capriciousness, caprice, volatility, fickleness, idiosyncrasy, eccentricity, unpredictability
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    2. 1.2 A thing that is fanciful or odd.
      ‘the stone carvings and whimsies’
      • ‘Place to buy meaningless whimsy if you have nothing else to do with your dough: Small Crafts Advisory, 9803 Third Ave., Stone Harbor.’
      • ‘A strange whimsy makes a grim memory of smoke and fog no less grim but perhaps more haunting.’


Early 17th century (in the sense ‘caprice’): probably based on whim-wham.