whip·​lash | \ ˈhwip-ˌlash How to pronounce whiplash (audio) , 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 sheer volume of backstory provided here amounts to literary whiplash: Old family secrets and integral plot developments are presented in a single sentence and not even fully digested by the reader until several more pages have gone by. Tori Latham, The Atlantic, "The Epistolary Heart of An American Marriage," 7 Mar. 2018 For instance, the air bags can’t prevent whiplash or a broken elbow, Lakatos said — emphasizing that the priority at this, his third start-up, is to prevent an often life-threatening injury. Diane Mastrull, Philly.com, "Fall. 'Pop.' Air bag. A Montco start-up is out to prevent hip fractures with a high-tech belt," 14 Mar. 2018 Rather than spreading rainfall throughout the year, California is expected to see periods of intense rainfall followed by extreme dryness, a phenomenon researchers have described as weather whiplash. Umair Irfan, Vox, "Watch how the climate could change in these US cities by 2050," 30 Nov. 2018 Winnings specifically from baccarat — the card game that can be a windfall or whiplash for casinos — increased to $117.2 million, up $58.8 million or 110.6 percent. Washington Post, "Nevada gambling revenue tops $1B for third straight month," 30 Apr. 2018 This episode has a lot of whiplash moments for Brianna. Julie Kosin, Harper's BAZAAR, "Outlander's Sophie Skelton Breaks Down Brianna's Harrowing Assault," 24 Dec. 2018 Roseanne Barr's Twitter feed is suffering from severe whiplash. Andrea Mandell, USA TODAY, "Roseanne Barr is still tweeting about Valerie Jarrett," 6 June 2018 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

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

20 Mar 2019

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- How to pronounce whiplash (audio) \

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

Comments on whiplash

What made you want to look up whiplash? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


to reflect, repel, echo, or resound

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