bush·​whack | \ ˈbu̇sh-ˌ(h)wak How to pronounce bushwhack (audio) \
bushwhacked; bushwhacking; bushwhacks

Definition of bushwhack

1 transitive : to attack (someone) by surprise from a hidden place : ambush … the American banditti robbed trains and bushwhacked stagecoaches and settlers' caravans with equal enthusiasm for fistic violence and gunplay.— James Gray Williams wears a pistol when he goes into the countryside and worries that someone might bushwhack him because he is outspoken.— Monty Brower and Bill Shaw
2 intransitive
a : to travel by foot through uncleared terrain Other beaches have no access at all; you have to bushwhack to get to them, through terrain infested with rattlesnakes, poison oak, and other hazards.— Anthony Brandt No paths presented themselves and I bushwhacked through numerous fallen and dead trees.— Rob Nicholson … decided it was best to "bushwhack," or wander off the path to get closer to the barred owl and possibly catch a glimpse of it.— Eric Koszalka
b : to clear a path or advance through thick woods especially by chopping down bushes and low branches … it would allow them to locate their prey without having to bushwhack through the jungle for days or weeks.Earth Island Journal

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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 Your hands need to bushwhack, grip onto sturdy trees, and point out the soaring eagle ahead. Danielle Bernabe, Fortune, 29 May 2021 That means hikers are sometimes required to bushwhack to get to waypoints such as the summit of El Cajon Mountain east of Lakeside. San Diego Union-Tribune, 20 Mar. 2021 To get a clear picture of an emergency in progress, officers often had to bushwhack through dozens of byzantine databases and feeds from far-flung sensors, including gunshot detectors, license plate readers, and public and private security cameras. Arthur Holland Michel, Wired, 4 Feb. 2021 This new one will bushwhack a path into the woods and pamper your ass on a run to the mall. David Beard, Car and Driver, 26 Oct. 2020 Or simply study the terrain and bushwhack them along a ridge spine or other terrain funnel, without ever making a call. Scott Bestul, Field & Stream, 8 May 2020 Cassens and Groot were among scores of volunteer searchers who had bushwhacked for days, looking for the elderly couple. Steve Rubenstein, SFChronicle.com, 26 Feb. 2020 The Bruins and Leafs were tied in wins (24) and the Bolts, seemingly woke now some nine months after getting bushwhacked by the Blue Jackets in the opening round of the playoffs, had 23. Kevin Paul Dupont, BostonGlobe.com, 5 Jan. 2020 While bushwhacking through hellish yew thickets, the sling kept twisting and finally unscrewed the swivel stud. John B. Snow, Outdoor Life, 14 Feb. 2020

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 sense 1

History and Etymology for bushwhack

back-formation from bushwhacker

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Time Traveler for bushwhack

Time Traveler

The first known use of bushwhack was in 1866

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Dictionary Entries Near bushwhack

bush warbler


bush willow

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Statistics for bushwhack

Last Updated

3 Jun 2021

Cite this Entry

“Bushwhack.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/bushwhack. Accessed 30 Jul. 2021.

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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


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