whip·​lash | \ ˈ(h)wip-ˌlash How to pronounce whiplash (audio) \

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 All of these phenomena, and the sheer pace of change in popular music, have created a vacuum of superstardom and a sense of perpetual whiplash. Carrie Battan, The New Yorker, 15 Oct. 2021 Still, small-business owners say the whiplash is worth it to keep customers and employees as safe as possible. Compiled Democrat-gazette Staff From Wire Reports, Arkansas Online, 11 Oct. 2021 The title track shows Laurence himself in a state of emotional whiplash, exploring fear and rage, flipping a switch to scenes of peaceful dreams. Anne Nickoloff, cleveland, 1 Oct. 2021 There’s a lot of emotional whiplash that comes from being a veterinarian. Justin Ray, Los Angeles Times, 27 Sep. 2021 Bouncing between suburban life and a drug den created a kind of emotional whiplash. Joshuah Bearman, Vulture, 23 Aug. 2021 Suffering from emotional whiplash and feeling like social aliens, some people might prefer to remain isolated. Samantha Boardman, WSJ, 19 Aug. 2021 For Amelia McClain, 2020 was a year of emotional whiplash. Washington Post, 13 Aug. 2021 The jump from 5 degrees to 70 degrees and then back to 5 degrees causes a bit of botanical whiplash that can mean some plants start out the following spring with one foot in the ditch. Paul Cappiello, The Courier-Journal, 21 May 2021

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.

See More

First Known Use of whiplash

circa 1580, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More About whiplash

Time Traveler for whiplash

Time Traveler

The first known use of whiplash was circa 1580

See more words from the same year

Dictionary Entries Near whiplash

whip kick


whiplash injury

See More Nearby Entries 

Statistics for whiplash

Last Updated

24 Oct 2021

Cite this Entry

“Whiplash.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/whiplash. Accessed 27 Oct. 2021.

Style: MLA
MLACheck Mark Icon ChicagoCheck Mark Icon APACheck Mark Icon Merriam-WebsterCheck Mark Icon

Keep scrolling for more

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)

More from Merriam-Webster on whiplash

Nglish: Translation of whiplash for Spanish Speakers

Britannica.com: Encyclopedia article about whiplash


Test Your Vocabulary

Farm Idioms Quiz

  • cow coming home
  • What does 'poke' refer to in the expression 'pig in a poke'?
Spell It

Can you spell these 10 commonly misspelled words?

Love words? Need even more definitions?

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