whip·​lash ˈ(h)wip-ˌlash How to pronounce whiplash (audio)
: the lash of a whip
: something resembling a blow from a whip
the whiplash of fearR. S. Banay
: injury resulting from a sudden sharp whipping movement of the neck and head (as of a person in a vehicle that is struck from the rear by another vehicle)

Example Sentences

He got whiplash when his car was rear-ended.
Recent Examples on the Web Jalen Duren also returned after missing a game due to cervical whiplash. Detroit Free Press, 25 Mar. 2023 But just when things seemed calm, forecasters projected another atmospheric river on the horizon, another whiplash. Reis Thebault, Washington Post, 17 Mar. 2023 But a dearth of ambitious new targets and messaging whiplash over what’s to happen with the troubled consumer business underwhelmed the market. Sridhar Natarajan, Fortune, 1 Mar. 2023 Tua fell backward and crashed to the turf, creating a whiplash that banged his head. Tom Krasovic, San Diego Union-Tribune, 2 Jan. 2023 But the abrupt U-turn was seemingly carried out with little advance warning or preparation, causing a sense of whiplash and confusion among many. Jessie Yeung, CNN, 21 Dec. 2022 Ocean carriers are canceling dozens of sailings on the world’s busiest routes during what is normally their peak season, the latest sign of the economic whiplash hitting companies. WSJ, 3 Oct. 2022 The present-day storyline is a mix of bland high school drama and pharmaceutical corruption, while the future 2036 events, starring Ella Balinska as a hardened and traumatized adult Jade Wesker, whiplash between zombie guts and tired genre tropes. Jordan Moreau, Variety, 14 July 2022 In the first Fantastic Beasts film, the shift from meeting playful critters to contending with a murderous antagonist resulted in severe tonal whiplash. Shirley Li, The Atlantic, 20 Apr. 2022 See More

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'whiplash.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History

First Known Use

circa 1580, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Time Traveler
The first known use of whiplash was circa 1580

Dictionary Entries Near whiplash

Cite this Entry

“Whiplash.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/whiplash. Accessed 1 Apr. 2023.

Kids Definition


whip·​lash -ˌlash How to pronounce whiplash (audio)
: the lash of a whip
: injury resulting from a sudden sharp jerking movement of the head and neck (as of a person in a car that is struck from behind by another car)

Medical Definition


whip·​lash ˈhwip-ˌlash, ˈwip- How to pronounce whiplash (audio)
: injury resulting from a sudden sharp whipping movement of the neck and head (as of a person in a vehicle that is struck head-on or from the rear by another vehicle)

More from Merriam-Webster on whiplash

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