whip·​saw | \ ˈ(h)wip-ˌsȯ How to pronounce whipsaw (audio) \

Definition of whipsaw

 (Entry 1 of 2)

: a narrow pit saw averaging 5 to 7¹/₂ feet (1.5 to 2.3 meters) in length


whipsawed; whipsawing; whipsaws

Definition of whipsaw (Entry 2 of 2)

transitive verb

1 : to saw with a whipsaw
2 : to beset or victimize in two opposite ways at once, by a two-phase operation, or by the collusive action of two opponents wage earners were whipsawed by inflation and high taxes

Did you know?

A whipsaw is a type of hand-powered saw worked by two people, one of whom stands on or above the log being sawed and the other below it, usually in a pit. The tool dates back to the 15th century, but it was not until the 19th century that anyone thought to use the saw's name figuratively to describe situations in which someone or something is doubly "cut," or hurt. Today, the word is commonly used when discussing financial crises or losses as well as ideological changes (as in government policy) that might "cut."

Examples of whipsaw in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web: Noun Our yearly fluctuations are dramatic, and even an average year feels like a bit of a whipsaw. Dave Epstein, BostonGlobe.com, 1 Aug. 2022 Another week of whipsaw stock trading has many investors wondering how much farther markets will fall. Akane Otani, WSJ, 20 June 2022 The economic whipsaw unleashed by the pandemic gets most of the blame, said John Auers, executive vice president at Turner, Mason & Co., an oil-industry research firm in Dallas. Globe Staff, BostonGlobe.com, 26 May 2022 The whipsaw of images creates an uncertain foundation for a potential presidential campaign, for which Mr. Pence has been laying the groundwork. New York Times, 20 June 2022 The crypto market is known for its wild swings—particularly on weekends, when moves can be magnified—and the whipsaw of the past two days provided the latest example. Fortune, 19 June 2022 For hospitals and health systems, the past two years of Covid-19 have seen a whipsaw of crises. Dwight Raum, Forbes, 10 June 2022 Natural-gas futures for July delivery fell more than 16% to end Tuesday at $7.189 per million British thermal units, the latest whipsaw move in the market for the power-generation and heating fuel. Ryan Dezember, WSJ, 14 June 2022 Another factor contributing to possible whipsaw weekend prices is the increasing number of futures contracts for Bitcoin. Fortune, 27 May 2022 Recent Examples on the Web: Verb Investors are pouring billions of dollars into annuities, as worries about stagflation and a U.S. recession whipsaw the stock and bond markets. Lori Ioannou, WSJ, 4 June 2022 With little visibility over how higher interest rates will filter through the wider economy, money managers say trading has been thin and prone to whipsaw moves in both directions. Joe Wallace, WSJ, 28 Apr. 2022 Scene transitions whipsaw with the speed of an ERG handle, all quilted together with that addictively rhythmic sound design. Katie Walsh, Los Angeles Times, 16 Dec. 2021 Some of the big-name startups expected to go public early this year have slowed their rush to market as stocks continue to whipsaw. Katie Roof, Bloomberg.com, 28 Mar. 2022 As stock prices whipsaw, some traders have increased their holdings of alternative assets like gold to hedge their bets. Fortune, 9 Mar. 2022 Over the course of one day, January 24, the Dow Jones Industrial Average plunged 1,000 points in early trading only to whipsaw and regain all its value by the market close. Christopher Leonard For Cnn Business Perspectives, CNN, 7 Feb. 2022 Emerging markets like India can whipsaw as global investors who poured in money can pull it out quickly, particularly when central banks raise interest rates and attract investor capital. New York Times, 11 Nov. 2021 The global pandemic has swung us from pessimism to optimism as we near the end of the long dark tunnel, only to whipsaw us back again. John Pierce, Forbes, 9 Nov. 2021 See More

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'whipsaw.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

First Known Use of whipsaw


15th century, in the meaning defined above


1842, in the meaning defined at sense 1

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Last Updated

18 Sep 2022

Cite this Entry

“Whipsaw.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/whipsaw. Accessed 6 Oct. 2022.

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Britannica.com: Encyclopedia article about whipsaw


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