[hwip-lash, wip-]
  1. the lash of a whip.
  2. an abrupt snapping motion or change of direction resembling the lash of a whip.
  3. Also whiplash injury. a neck injury caused by a sudden jerking backward, forward, or both, of the head: Whiplash resulted when their car was struck from behind.
  4. Also called whiplash curve. a connected series of reverse curves of more or less elliptical form, used as a major design motif in the Art Nouveau style.
verb (used with object)
  1. to beat, hit, throw, etc., with or as if with a whiplash.
  2. to affect adversely, as by a sudden change: new taxes whiplashing corporate earnings.

Origin of whiplash

1565–75; 1950–55 for def 6; whip + lash1
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

British Dictionary definitions for whiplash-curve


  1. a quick lash or stroke of a whip or like that of a whip
  2. med See whiplash injury
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012

Word Origin and History for whiplash-curve



1570s, "the lash of a whip," from whip (n.) + lash (n.). The injury caused by sudden head motion so called by 1955, in reference to the notion of moving to and fro like a cracking whip. The verb in this sense is recorded by 1971.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

whiplash-curve in Medicine


  1. Whiplash injury.
The American Heritage® Stedman's Medical Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.