Definitions

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

  • n. A card game ancestral to bridge, played with a full deck by two teams of two players, in which the last card dealt indicates trump, tricks of four cards are played, and a point is scored for each trick over six won by each team.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • n. Any of several four-player card games, similar to bridge.
  • n. Sessions of playing the card game.
  • adj. silent
  • v. To silence; still.
  • v. To become silent.
  • interj. Alternative spelling of whisht. Silence! Quiet! Hush! Shhh!

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • adj. Not speaking; not making a noise; silent; mute; still; quiet.
  • n. A certain game at cards; -- so called because it requires silence and close attention. It is played by four persons (those who sit opposite each other being partners) with a complete pack of fifty-two cards. Each player has thirteen cards, and when these are played out, the hand is finished, and the cards are again shuffled and distributed.
  • interj. Be silent; be still; hush; silence.
  • intransitive v. To be or become silent or still; to be hushed or mute.
  • transitive v. To hush or silence.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • Silence! hush! be still!
  • Hushed; silent; mute; still: chiefly used predicatively.
  • n. A game played with cards by four persons, two of them as partners in opposition to the other two, also partners.

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

  • n. a card game for four players who form two partnerships; a pack of 52 cards is dealt and each side scores one point for each trick it takes in excess of six

Etymologies

Alteration (perhaps influenced by the exclamation whist, silence!) of obsolete and dialectal whisk, perhaps from whisk.
(American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition)
Middle English whist ("silent"). (Wiktionary)

Examples

  • Little wonder, then, that the chief spectator of this agreeable tableau grew nightly more enamored, and while the elders were deep in whist, the young people were playing that still more absorbing game in which hearts are always trumps.

    Rose in Bloom

  • The rubber was conducted with all that gravity of deportment and sedateness of demeanour which befit the pursuit entitled 'whist' -- a solemn observance, to which, as it appears to us, the title of 'game' has been very irreverently and ignominiously applied.

    The Pickwick papers

  • On this journey he became acquainted with several Americans, with whom he played whist, which is what he was doing when his train pulled up at the St. George's

    Under the Great Bear

  • Chapter two hundred and seventy-one of the General Laws is hereby amended by striking out section twenty - two A. as most recently amended by chapters two hundred and twenty-two and two hundred and eighty-three of the acts of nineteen hundred and thirty-six, and inserting in place thereof the following section: — Section 22 A. Noth - ing in this chapter shall authorize the prosecution, arrest or conviction of any person for conducting or promoting, or for allowing to be conducted or promoted, a game of cards commonly called whist or bridge, in connection with which prizes are offered to be won by chance; provided, that the entire proceeds of the charges for admission to such game are donated solely to charitable, civic, educational, fraternal or religious purposes.

    Acts and resolves passed by the General Court

  • He admitted, indeed, that for the higher walks of life, such as whist and nap, he had no aptitude.

    The Life of Sir Richard Burton

  • Whereupon the old man went into the bedroom and, unlocking his wooden "whist," which served the purpose of a trunk, he took out something which he brought into the front room.

    The old plantation : how we lived in great house and cabin before the war,

  • It was not the best kind of whist, but they had taken some trouble to arrive at it.

    Life's Handicap

  • The unmitigated 'whist' may lapse into a 'whish' when he is is transplanted to another soil, and the 'whish' may in course of time pass into a 'whush,' but to the distinct aspirate of the English 'hush,' he never attains.

    The Experiences of Loveday Brooke, Lady Detective

  • Only an instant did he see it, photographed as by electricity upon the retina, when with a sharp stinging pang and whirring "whist" and thud a second arrow, better aimed, tore through the flesh and muscles just at the outer corner of his left eye, and glanced away down the hill.

    Starlight Ranch and Other Stories of Army Life on the Frontier

  • Another advantage might be gained by this arrangement, for in case they should fall in with some out-post, the girl's knowledge of the Indian tongue, would, perhaps, enable her to deceive the sentinel: and so the sequel proved, for scarcely had they descended one hundred feet, when a low "whist" from the girl, warned them of present danger.

    Heroes and Hunters of the West Comprising Sketches and Adventures of Boone, Kenton, Brady, Logan, Whetzel, Fleehart, Hughes, Johnson, &c.

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Comments

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  • "But even in the case of a man of real merit, it is a quality not to be despised by the person who admits him into his private life, and one that makes him particularly useful if he can also play whist."
    --The Captive & The Fugitive by Marcel Proust, translated by C.K. Scott Moncrieff and Terence Kilmartin, revised by D.J. Enright, p 915 of the Modern Library paperback edition

    February 23, 2010

  • See also: quadrille.

    October 15, 2009

  • "I had plenty of time (as he was pretending to be absorbed in a fictitious game of whist which enabled him to appear not to notice people) to admire the deliberate, artful simplicity of his evening coat which, by the merest trifles which only a tailor's eye could have picked out, had the air of a 'Harmony in Black and White' by Whistler; black, white and red, rather, for M. de Charlus was wearing, suspended from a broad ribbon over his shirt-front, the cross, in white, black and red enamel, of a Knight of the religious Order of Malta."
    --Sodom and Gomorrah by Marcel Proust, translated by C.K. Scott Moncrieff and Terence Kilmartin, revised by D.J. Enright, pp 70-71 of the Modern Library paperback edition

    February 2, 2009

  • Ah ... me, too. I'd guess that - if a U.S. citizen knows the term - it's 10 to 1 that he/she got it from Around the World in Eighty Days. But when I found it in Howard's poem it just didn't add up.

    February 15, 2008

  • I first learned about Whist from Jules Verne.

    February 14, 2008

  • Yes, a card game ... but in British dialect it means "to become silent" as in this from Henry Howard, Earl of Surrey (1517-1547):

    It was then night: the sound and quiet sleep
    Had through the earth the wearied bodies caught;
    The woods, the raging seas were fallen to rest;
    When that the stars had half their course declined
    The fields whist ...

    February 14, 2008