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[hwip-lash, wip-] /ˈʰwɪpˌlæʃ, ˈwɪp-/
the lash of a whip.
an abrupt snapping motion or change of direction resembling the lash of a whip.
Also, whiplash injury. a neck injury caused by a sudden jerking backward, forward, or both, of the head:
Whiplash resulted when their car was struck from behind.
Also called whiplash curve. a connected series of reverse curves of more or less elliptical form, used as a major design motif in the Art Nouveau style.
verb (used with object)
to beat, hit, throw, etc., with or as if with a whiplash.
to affect adversely, as by a sudden change:
new taxes whiplashing corporate earnings.
Origin of whiplash
1565-75; 1950-55 for def 6; whip + lash1 Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the Web for whip lash
Historical Examples
  • The crashing sound in the jungle died away rapidly, immediately the first report of the whip lash sounded in the trail.

  • Scarcely had he spoken when he felt a whip lash across his legs.

    The Putnam Hall Rebellion Arthur M. Winfield
  • The fine snowy particles were a powdered ice that drove through seams of clothing and cut one's skin like a whip lash.

    Lords of the North A. C. Laut
  • A whip lash across his face would have hurt Mr. Saltus less.

    Edgar Saltus: The Man Marie Saltus
  • That note in his superior's voice was like a whip lash—much worse to take than the abuse of a lesser man.

    Plague Ship Andre Norton
  • They would be words in earnest to him, and every word would be a whip lash.

    Playing With Fire Amelia Edith Huddleston Barr
  • In addition the whip lash is thrown to the opposite side of the dogs.

    The Central Eskimo Franz Boas
  • His sarcasm made Van Cleft wince as though from a whip lash.

    The Voice on the Wire Eustace Hale Ball
  • But it was only the illusion of a lion's roar and Gud's staff went through the incorporeal stuff like a whip lash through mercy.

    The Book of Gud Dan Spain
  • When the door was opened he dropped the note on the floor, was given the whip lash and hurried away to the field.

British Dictionary definitions for whip lash


a quick lash or stroke of a whip or like that of a whip
(med) See whiplash injury
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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Word Origin and History for whip lash



1570s, "the lash of a whip," from whip (n.) + lash (n.). The injury caused by sudden head motion so called by 1955, in reference to the notion of moving to and fro like a cracking whip. The verb in this sense is recorded by 1971.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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whip lash in Medicine

whiplash whip·lash (wĭp'lāsh')
Whiplash injury.

The American Heritage® Stedman's Medical Dictionary
Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.
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