bush·​whack | \ ˈbu̇sh-ˌhwak How to pronounce bushwhack (audio) , -ˌwak\
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 I

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

People hardly blinked when regulators at ADEM – armed with talking points from polluters -- practically bushwhacked a visitor who wanted to question challenges to EPA cleanup of north Birmingham and Tarrant. John Archibald | Jarchibald@al.com, al.com, "Flaccid ADEM is the picture of phallic failure," 24 June 2019 Flatlanders can surge up above 10,000 feet and get bushwhacked by hypoxia, where their bodies haven’t had time to acclimate to the lower oxygen levels at higher altitudes. Tom Stienstra, SFChronicle.com, "Everything you need to know to climb Mount Shasta ahead of a sensational summer season," 7 June 2019 Be prepared for bushwhacking, road walking, scrambling, and various networks of unsigned forest roads through grizzly country—this makes navigation tools, bear spray, and mountaineering skills necessities. Jonathan Olivier, Outside Online, "The Best Thru-Hikes You've Never Heard Of," 14 May 2018 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

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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Dictionary Entries near bushwhack



bush warbler


bush willow



Statistics for bushwhack

Last Updated

29 Jun 2019

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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

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with bushwhack

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for bushwhack

Comments on bushwhack

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something desired as essential

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