to demand obedience, hard work, or efficiency from others in a harsh or stern manner.
Also called snap the whip. a game in which players in a line, each holding the next, run, roller-skate, or ice-skate for a distance until the leader veers suddenly in a new direction, causing the rest of the line to swing around rapidly and the players at the end of the line to lose their balance or to let go of the other players.
To command peremptorily and fiercely; intimidate: He has made great industrial corporations jump when he cracks the whip
[1940s+; fr the use of a whip to control animals, esp in the circus]
The Dictionary of American Slang, Fourth Edition by Barbara Ann Kipfer, PhD. and Robert L. Chapman, Ph.D. Copyright (C) 2007 by HarperCollins Publishers. Cite This Source
Idioms and Phrases with cracked whip
Behave in a domineering and demanding way toward one's subordinates. For example, He's been cracking the whip ever since he got his promotion. This expression, first recorded in 1647, alludes to drivers of horse-drawn wagons who snapped their whips hard, producing a loud cracking noise. Its figurative use dates from the late 1800s.