Definitions

from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 5th Edition.

  • noun 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 The Century Dictionary.

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

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English.

  • transitive verb obsolete To hush or silence.
  • noun 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.
  • noun See Bridge, n., above.
  • noun a form of whist in playing which the hands are preserved as dealt and played again by other players, as when each side holds in the second round the cards played by the opposing side in the first round.
  • noun See Solo whist, above.
  • intransitive verb rare To be or become silent or still; to be hushed or mute.
  • adjective Not speaking; not making a noise; silent; mute; still; quiet.
  • interjection Be silent; be still; hush; silence.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License.

  • noun Any of several four-player card games, similar to bridge.
  • noun Sessions of playing the card game.
  • adjective silent
  • verb transitive To silence; still.
  • verb intransitive To become silent.
  • interjection Alternative spelling of whisht. Silence! Quiet! Hush! Shhh!

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

  • noun 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

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

[Alteration (perhaps influenced by the exclamation whist, silence!) of obsolete and dialectal whisk, perhaps from whisk.]

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

Middle English whist ("silent").

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

  • 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

  • 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

  • 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

  • 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

Comments

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  • 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

  • I first learned about Whist from Jules Verne.

    February 14, 2008

  • 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 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

  • See also: quadrille.

    October 15, 2009

  • "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