whip·​lash | \ˈhwip-ˌlash, ˈwip-\

Definition of whiplash 

1 : the lash of a whip

2 : something resembling a blow from a whip the whiplash of fear— R. S. Banay

3 : 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)

Examples of whiplash in a Sentence

He got whiplash when his car was rear-ended.

Recent Examples on the Web

The evening ends with similar impact, as the full company’s arcing paths of running dancers circuit the stage, at times suggesting a whirlpool, before looping out as a whiplash of punctuation. Robert Greskovic, WSJ, "‘The Six Brandenburg Concertos’ Review: Falling Short of Bach," 5 Oct. 2018 Australia’s latest political tumult is probably causing some whiplash for Australian voters. Jen Kirby, Vox, "What the hell is happening with Australia’s prime minister, explained," 25 Aug. 2018 The decision to offload Baker Hughes might give shareholders whiplash. Nathan Bomey, USA TODAY, "5 ways General Electric is shrinking as an American corporate icon," 26 June 2018 Kim Kardashian West has come dangerously close to giving us whiplash in recent years. Macaela Mackenzie, Allure, "15 Celebrities Who Prove a Dye Job Makes a Huge Difference," 18 Oct. 2018 The back and forth on what constitutes good office design is enough to give a middle manager whiplash. Liz Stinson, Curbed, "Fritz Hansen’s new seating makes open plan offices more bearable," 10 Oct. 2018 These strange transitions deliver a kind of tonal whiplash and risk the audience's connection to these likable characters. Tim Grierson, Popular Mechanics, "Quirky Monster Film 'Colossal' Is As Clever As It Is Disjointed," 6 Apr. 2017 And the merger dance that’s taking place has caused whiplash in Hollywood. Edmund Lee, Recode, "NBC saved ‘Brooklyn Nine-Nine’ amidst the media merger wars. Let us explain.," 12 May 2018 And North Korea will not get whiplash from a change in administration. Anna Fifield, BostonGlobe.com, "Trump’s Iran decision won’t stop North Korea talks, but it might raise the price," 9 May 2018

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'whiplash.' 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 whiplash

circa 1580, in the meaning defined at sense 1

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Statistics for whiplash

Last Updated

11 Dec 2018

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for whiplash

The first known use of whiplash was circa 1580

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More Definitions for whiplash



English Language Learners Definition of whiplash

: an injury to the neck that is caused by a sudden backward movement of the head


whip·​lash | \ˈhwip-ˌlash, ˈwip- \

Medical Definition of whiplash 

: 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)

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More from Merriam-Webster on whiplash

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with whiplash

Spanish Central: Translation of whiplash

Nglish: Translation of whiplash for Spanish Speakers

Britannica.com: Encyclopedia article about whiplash

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a soft lustrous wool fabric with mohair

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