crack the whip

Idioms & Phrases

crack the 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.

The American Heritage® Dictionary of Idioms by Christine Ammer.
Copyright © 1997. Published by Houghton Mifflin.
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