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

Keep scrolling for more

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 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, "Tested: 2020 Land Rover Defender 110 SE Refines an Off-Road Icon," 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, "18 Tips for Hunting Pressured Late-Season Turkeys," 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, "Hero search dog tries not to let fame of Point Reyes rescue get to his fuzzy head," 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, "The Bruins’ perch atop Atlantic Division standings looks precarious," 5 Jan. 2020 While bushwhacking through hellish yew thickets, the sling kept twisting and finally unscrewed the swivel stud. John B. Snow, Outdoor Life, "Building the Ultimate Open-Country Hunting Rifle," 14 Feb. 2020 Mine seemed unaffected by a 40-pound guide pack or bushwhacking through alder and willow. Andrew Skurka, Outside Online, "Review: Gore Wear H5 Gore-Tex Shakedry Jacket," 22 Dec. 2019 The Ducks figure to be in an ornery mood after getting bushwhacked Saturday night at Arizona State. oregonlive, "Goe: Oregon State’s defense buckles at WSU, bowl game remains out of reach," 24 Nov. 2019 The green pins are regular ranger patrols—known as Mamba teams—six rangers to a team, bushwhacking through the park on five-day rotations. David Quammen, National Geographic, "To save wildlife, African governments turn to private management," 12 Nov. 2019

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.

See More

First Known Use of bushwhack

1866, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for bushwhack

back-formation from bushwhacker

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about bushwhack

Time Traveler for bushwhack

Time Traveler

The first known use of bushwhack was in 1866

See more words from the same year

Statistics for bushwhack

Last Updated

5 Nov 2020

Cite this Entry

“Bushwhack.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/bushwhack. Accessed 25 Nov. 2020.

Keep scrolling for more

More Definitions for bushwhack


How to pronounce bushwhack (audio)

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

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).


Test Your Vocabulary

A Thanksgiving Word Quiz

  • a traditional thanksgiving dinner
  • November comes from a word for which of the following numbers?
Spell It

Can you spell these 10 commonly misspelled words?


Test Your Knowledge - and learn some interesting things along the way.

Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!