Definitions

from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

  • n. A slight, gentle gust of air; a waft: a whiff of cool air.
  • n. A brief, passing odor carried in the air: a whiff of perfume.
  • n. A minute trace: "Humanity is unregenerable and hates the language of conformity, since conformity has a whiff of the inhuman about it” ( Anthony Burgess).
  • n. An inhalation, as of air or smoke: Take a whiff of this pipe.
  • n. Baseball A strikeout.
  • intransitive v. To be carried in brief gusts; waft: puffs of smoke whiffing from the chimney.
  • intransitive v. Sports To swing at and miss a ball or puck.
  • intransitive v. Baseball To strike out. Used of a batter.
  • transitive v. To blow or convey in whiffs.
  • transitive v. To inhale through the nose; sniff: a dog whiffing the air.
  • transitive v. Baseball To strike out (a batter).

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • n. A waft; a brief, gentle breeze; a light gust of air
  • n. An odour carried briefly through the air
  • n. A short inhalation of breath, especially of smoke from a cigarette or pipe
  • n. a slight sign of something
  • n. A strike (from the batter’s perspective)
  • n. The megrim, a fish with scientific name Lepidorhombus boscii or Lepidorhombus whiffiagonis
  • v. To waft.
  • v. To sniff.
  • v. To strike out.
  • v. to attempt to strike and miss, especially being off-balance/vulnerable after missing.
  • adj. Having a strong or unpleasant odor.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • n. A sudden expulsion of air from the mouth; a quick puff or slight gust, as of air or smoke.
  • n. A glimpse; a hasty view.
  • n. The marysole, or sail fluke.
  • intransitive v. To emit whiffs, as of smoke; to puff.
  • transitive v. To throw out in whiffs; to consume in whiffs; to puff.
  • transitive v. To carry or convey by a whiff, or as by a whiff; to puff or blow away.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • To puff; blow; produce or emit a puff or whiff.
  • To drink.
  • To puff; puff out; exhale; blow: as, to whiff out rings of smoke.
  • To carry as by a slight blast or whiff of wind.
  • To draw in; imbibe; inhale: said of air or smoke, and frequently of liquids also.
  • To fish, as for mackerel, with a hand-line. See whiffing, n.
  • n. A slight blast or gust of air; especially, a puff of air conveying some smell.
  • n. A quick inhalation of air, and especially of smoke; a drawing or drinking; in of smoke; also, a draught or drink, as of wine or liquid.
  • n. A sudden expulsion of air, smoke, or the like from the mouth; a puff.
  • n. A hasty view; a glimpse; a gliff.
  • n. At Oxford and other places on the Thames, a light kind of outrigger boat.
  • n. An anacanthine or malacopterygious fish of the family Pleuronectidæ, a kind of flatfish or flounder, the Cynicoglossus microcephalus, found in British waters; the smear-dab, sail-fluke, or marysole.

from WordNet 3.0 Copyright 2006 by Princeton University. All rights reserved.

  • v. smoke and exhale strongly
  • v. drive or carry as if by a puff of air
  • v. perceive by inhaling through the nose
  • n. a short light gust of air
  • n. a strikeout resulting from the batter swinging at and missing the ball for the third strike
  • v. strike out by swinging and missing the pitch charged as the third
  • v. utter with a puff of air
  • n. a lefteye flounder found in coastal waters from New England to Brazil

Etymologies

Perhaps alteration of Middle English weffe, offensive smell.
(American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition)

Examples

  • Actually when the revolution was about to be snuffed out, he got canons into the center of Paris and what he called a whiff of great shot he mowed down the rioters in a vicious by wholly successful attempt to defend the revolution.

    Napoleon & Wellington: The Battle of Waterloo and the Great Commanders Who Fought It

  • I'll keep you posted on my experiments with it, in the meantime I'm more than happy to get my thrill by taking a whiff from the jar every now and then.

    Baharat. A new word in my vocabulary.

  • Imperialism itself to the retired elephant hunter who criticises Orwell's inability to put the beast out of its misery - apparently the trick is to aim for the point where the two eye-ear lines cross - these are never less than fascin - ating: a sudden sulphurous whiff from a world in which a writer finds himself turned into a glowing personal presence in the lives of thousands of ordinary people.

    Review of Emma Larkin's "Secret Histories: Finding George Orwell in a Burmese Teashop"

  • Herbert; “I'll shuffle my own fortune;” and seizing the cards, he handled them as knowingly as the sibyl herself, and ran over a jargon quite as unintelligible; and then holding them fast, quite out of Effie's reach, he ran on — “Ah, ha — I see the mist going off like the whiff from a Dutchman's pipe; and here's a grand castle, and parks, and pleasure-grounds; and here am I, with a fair blue-eyed lady, within it.”

    The Linwoods; Or, "sixty Years Since" in America

  • The pipe was passed from mouth to mouth, each one taking a whiff, which is equivalent to the inviolable pledge of faith, of taking salt together among the ancient Britons.

    Astoria, or Anecdotes of an Enterprise Beyond the Rocky Mountains

  • You don't admit it to him and especially not to yourself, but you like the musky aroma from his bath soap and you know that tonight you won't have to sneak a whiff of his hair before you fall asleep.

    Wraithbait

  • It's highly likely that the whiff is the product of chemicals used in products 'manufacture evapourating as the machines heat up as their used.

    Channel Register

  • The interim constitution contained a "whiff" of federalism, but the new constitution should ensure that central government could not interfere in the powers of the provinces.

    ANC Daily News Briefing

  • Ch'in Chung was on the point of turning round to leave the room, when with a sound of 'whiff' which reached him from behind, he at once caught sight of a square inkslab come flying that way.

    Hung Lou Meng, Book I Or, the Dream of the Red Chamber, a Chinese Novel in Two Books

  • The men around him were hungry for a "whiff"; the sight of him calmly lighting a fresh "fag" at the stump of the old maddened them beyond endurance.

    "Contemptible", by "Casualty"

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  • It's a fish.

    January 2, 2012

  • Do you know, said I to Nunez, who those two fellows are with dirty clothes and matted hair, their elbows on that table in the corner, and their cheeks upon their hands, whiffing foul breath into each other's nostrils as they lay their heads together?

    - Lesage, The Adventures of Gil Blas of Santillane, tr. Smollett, bk 7 ch. 13

    October 2, 2008

  • Citation on naphthalene.

    June 22, 2008