bush·​whack | \ˈbu̇sh-ˌhwak, -ˌwak\
bushwhacked; bushwhacking; bushwhacks

Definition of bushwhack 

transitive verb

: ambush broadly : to attack suddenly : assault

intransitive verb

: to clear a path through thick woods especially by chopping down bushes and low branches

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Other Words from bushwhack

bushwhacker noun

Examples of bushwhack in a Sentence

The group bushwhacked through the jungle. They used the controversy as an opportunity to bushwhack their political opponents.

Recent Examples on the Web

When bushwhacking or rock scrambling, pants work best. Graham Averill, Outside Online, "The Best Summer Hiking Pants for Men," 28 June 2018 The rock plate stood up to hours of bushwhacking with a 60-pound pack in Colorado’s Park Range, and the fat lugs on the Vibram outsole gave us confidence on slick roots and gravelly paths. Outside Online, "The Best Trail Shoes of 2018," 15 May 2018 Instead, Aslan bushwhacks his way through intellectual history in pursuit of his point. Emma Green, New York Times, "Reza Aslan’s ‘God: A Human History’," 19 Dec. 2017 Imagine a Western in which Walter Brennan goes gunning for the varmints who bushwhacked John Wayne. Joe Leydon, chicagotribune.com, "'The Ballad of Lefty Brown' review: Bill Pullman saddles up, gives one of his best performances," 14 Dec. 2017 Dennis Hopper was killed 5,000 times before his actual death, and still gets shot down twice a month in black and white; Ken Curtis was bushwhacked and buried on a Gunsmoke cattle drive and reincarnated a week later, as Festus. Southern Living, "Cowboys are Her Weakness," 11 Jan. 2015 Bob and Sarah had to bushwhack around numerous logs across the trail or cut them with handsaws. Cindy Chojnacky, idahostatesman, "70 days in the wilderness: Idaho couple explores Central Idaho with llamas | Idaho Statesman," 30 Oct. 2017 But since the first track was discovered in 2005, researchers have slogged through raging rivers, bushwhacked through head-high willow thickets, and braved blizzards and thunderstorms to discover new specimens. Kate Siber, Alaska Dispatch News, "When dinosaurs ruled Alaska," 19 Aug. 2017 Those who beat around the bush might get bushwhacked. Jeraldine Saunders, The Mercury News, "Horoscope: March 30, 2017," 30 Mar. 2017

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'bushwhack.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

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First Known Use of bushwhack

1866, in the meaning defined at transitive sense

History and Etymology for bushwhack

back-formation from bushwhacker

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Dictionary Entries near bushwhack



bush warbler


bush willow



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Time Traveler for bushwhack

The first known use of bushwhack was in 1866

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More Definitions for bushwhack



English Language Learners Definition of bushwhack

: to clear a path through thick woods by cutting down bushes and low tree branches

: to attack (someone) suddenly

More from Merriam-Webster on bushwhack

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Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for bushwhack

Comments on bushwhack

What made you want to look up bushwhack? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


noxious or harmful

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