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[hwip-saw, wip-] /ˈʰwɪpˌsɔ, ˈwɪp-/
a saw for two persons, as a pitsaw, used to divide timbers lengthwise.
verb (used with object), whipsawed, whipsawed or whipsawn, whipsawing.
to cut with a whipsaw.
to win two bets from (a person) at one turn or play, as at faro.
to subject to two opposing forces at the same time:
The real-estate market has been whipsawed by high interest rates and unemployment.
verb (used without object), whipsawed, whipsawed or whipsawn, whipsawing.
(of a trailer, railroad car, etc.) to swing suddenly to the right or left, as in rounding a sharp curve at high speed.
1530-40; whip + saw1 Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2014.
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Examples from the web for whipsaw
  • But her whipsaw behavior was only part of the reason.
  • Never mind the whipsaw effects of society, technology, and culture.
  • Speculation is the emotional whipsaw that swings around that growth.
  • But as the stock and debt markets whipsaw, the timing of an initial public offering remained unclear.
  • The whipsaw movements of this market are making it nearly impossible for the little guy to participate in the market.
  • It's a perfect whipsaw for the industry to grind down weak older investor claimants and their lawyers.
  • In early days miners enjoyed the benefits of a sawmill, but after the decline they had to cut timber by whipsaw.
British Dictionary definitions for whipsaw


any saw with a flexible blade, such as a bandsaw
verb (transitive) -saws, -sawing, -sawed, -sawed, -sawn
to saw with a whipsaw
(US) to defeat in two ways at once
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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Slang definitions & phrases for whipsaw


  1. To attack or operate by letting rival parties attack one another, to the benefit of the more or less passive manipulator: pit one plant against another, using interplant rivalries to spur production, a tactic called ''whipsawing'' (1873+)
  2. To assault; defeat; clobber: I'm not trying to sandbag anybody, and I'm not trying to whipsaw anybody/ Tormented? Driven Witless? Whipsawed by Confusion? (1970s+)

[first sense perhaps fr the reciprocal action of the whipsaw, a pit saw operated by one person above and one in the pit below; in an earlier slang use whipsaw meant ''to take bribes from two political sources at once''; second sense probably fr the cutting efficiency of this two-person saw]

The Dictionary of American Slang, Fourth Edition by Barbara Ann Kipfer, PhD. and Robert L. Chapman, Ph.D.
Copyright (C) 2007 by HarperCollins Publishers.
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